21st Century Product, Project & Service Development
Certainly, Operational Excellence has its roots in Lean Thinking in the Automotive Industry, but its application spreads far and wide. In fact, a very rich body of knowledge has been developing in the management of large projects. While this thinking is spearheaded by very different industries, such as software development, it is very applicable to any organisation developing a product or service.
Take for example an architecture practice; every job is unique due to its site, budget, and client requirements. This needs to be treated as a project, which requires a certain approach – nowadays this is often referred to as Agile. But even within the unique project there are opportunities to approach the project with standard methodologies, or in some cases an opportunity to create very repeatable, or reusable modules. Ideas that are very mature in some industries, but fledgeling in others.
In all of this Project Implementation and Product or Service Development, there are a few core ideas that really transform how work gets done.
Technology is enabling a new order of collaboration. Many people can work simultaneously on varying aspects of the design of a product, car, aeroplane, medical device, building or piece of software. The tools are there to design and to collaborate. The hard work is envisioning the integrated suite of tools and processes that will enable this high level of collaboration.
2. Collaborative Culture
For any organisation to succeed into the future the culture will be key. There will need to be deep collaboration. The culture will need to be adaptive, agile and light on bureaucracy, but high on accuracy. Leadership teams need to focus on three things: design mastery, coaching and stewarding the work processes.
3. Leadership Philosophy.
Trust has to be at the heart of a modern organisation. Those in charge must give people work practices and processes that enable their value-adding colleagues to be successful. They must also trust colleagues to make good decisions and do good quality work. It is no longer viable to ensure the outcomes of a design or development initiative through control and checking. The way to ensure success is through education, inspiration, coaching and great processes.
Operational Excellence is catching the imagination of new industries, Construction, Healthcare, Public Administration, Utilities and Financial Services. Much of the work in these sectors is project work. The overhead of Project Management infrastructure, governance and administration is proving to be overbearing for the faster pace of change required. The approaches of more modern and agile industries are the new pathfinders of operational excellence.