Test your OPEX readiness: a checklist

You’ve likely heard about Operational Excellence and all of the benefits it can deliver. But in order to have a successful implementation and reap the rewards, your organization has to be ready. This checklist can help you determine if your organization is prepared to launch an OpEx program – or what you need to do to prime the company.

Here are five things to consider in evaluating your readiness to start a successful Operational Excellence program.

  1. Culture
    Ensuring the organization has a culture that will support OpEx is critical. And that requires building excitement around the program to generate enterprise-wide buy-in. When you kick off your program, be sure to make Operational Excellence understandable and relatable so employees can feel they’re a part of the effort. That means both talking in terms of specifics they care about – how their roles may be impacted – as well as the big picture for the company and how OpEx will help grow the business.
  2. Embracement of Education
    The more people who have OpEx skills, the greater the success, so the first step in any Operational Excellence effort is education. All employees need to be trained on the eight principles to achieve OpEx as well as the guidelines for applying them in certain settings like the office or complex manufacturing environments. After the in-depth instruction, be sure to give employees the chance to apply the content in a hands-on matter to increase their adoption of the process.
  3. Leadership Buy-In
    For Operational Excellence to be successful, it requires that the company’s leadership get behind the effort to drive support going forward. That doesn’t just mean signing off on the effort, but really backing it and demonstrating support by taking part in the education, working alongside employees in the hands-on activities, and setting examples in other ways. Not only will leadership engagement lead the way for other workers, it will also help them anticipate any apprehension workers may be feeling about OpEx so they can proactively address concerns and keep the effort on track.
  4. Employee Engagement
    For many companies, OpEx signals a change in the way the business operates. And change can be scary for some people. In order to allay any fears employees may have, engage them by communicating what the result of the program will be. Specifically, that managers will be able to stop firefighting and take on more strategic roles in the company, front-line employees will have more autonomy, and so on. By highlighting results employees can get behind, you’ll boost engagement and morale as you launch your OpEx program.
  5. A Destination
    The ultimate goal of Operational Excellence is business growth. And it’s important that employees understand where the company’s going. So be sure to explain that your vision for OpEx is different from the waste-elimination goal of continuous improvement, because they’ve likely “been there, done that.” Instead, share that the program is designed to move the company from point A to point B and that you should reach that destination within a year. Understanding where the company is going, and their role in the journey, will help drive adoption.

How did you fare? If you’ve hit the marks, that means your organization’s ready for OpEx – and real business growth.

About the author

Kevin J. Duggan is a renowned expert in applying advanced lean techniques to achieve Operational Excellence and the author of four books on the subject: Design for Operational Excellence: A Breakthrough Strategy for Business Growth, Creating Mixed Model Value Streams, Operational Excellence in Your Office: A Guide to Achieving Autonomous Value Stream Flow with Lean Techniques and Beyond the Lean Office: A Novel on Progressing from Lean Tools to Operational Excellence. As the Founder of the Institute for Operational Excellence, the leading educational center on Operational Excellence, and President of Duggan Associates, an international training and advisory firm, Kevin has assisted many major corporations worldwide, including General Dynamics, FMC Technologies, Chromalloy, Aetna, SpaceX, Caterpillar, Pratt & Whitney, Singapore Airlines, Sikorsky, IDEX Corporation and Parker Hannifin. A recognized expert on Operational Excellence, Kevin is a frequent keynote speaker, master of ceremonies, and panelist at international conferences, and has appeared on CNN and the Fox Business Network.