Operations Strategy Calibration

Even when a sound competitive strategy has been crafted, mistakes can still occur at the operational level. Operations are often not entirely aligned with the business strategy or they are simply not performing smoothly. To make an analogy to human physiology, an organization’s “body” may either be unable to execute what its own “head” commands with perfect timeliness and precision or a number of unnecessary activities may clutter the “organizational organism” without adding value for the organization’s stakeholders.

Operational excellence is about doing the right things right, that is acting according to the business strategy and with maximum effectiveness, or with a maximum “performance/ resources” ratio.

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Systems Thinking

The behavior of a system is often best understood by considering how its elements relate to each other. Systems Thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause-and-effect that is present in the feedback loops of information flow in the system. Sometimes it is useful to begin an improvement journey by starting with the “big picture” – i.e., a deeper understanding of the system in which specific operations work – in order not to restrict our attention to an exceedingly small number of variables. Later on, as our knowledge expands, the right time will come to focus on the fewer dominant elements that truly deserve our time and effort.

The Systems thinking workshop was aimed at helping staff to think more about their role in “the system” and how they are connected to others. We were already familiar with many of the tools from Lean but this workshop gave people a set of tools for examining complex problem situations which are more broadly applicable to map the system or systems and understand where to intervene. This led to a lively discussion and exchange of ideas among the delegates.

G.M., Business Excellence Manager, Pharma Manufacturer and Distributor
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