Optimize your optimizing, Part II

One-size-fits-all solutions may not help you meet your organization’s specific needs


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A key strategy to remaining competitive in your industry is to implement operational efficiencies, also called “process optimization.”

When undertaking process optimization initiatives, some companies decide to integrate defined “methodologies” into their processes, adopting protocols such as “Agile” or “Lean” or “Six Sigma.” It’s a tempting strategy, since they are proven methodologies and so implementing them would be sure to optimize your operations, right?

Well, yes, to a point. Pre-defined methodologies will improve your operations, but to really optimize your optimizing, you would be well-served to customize methodologies to your particular organization with specific process-optimization techniques. In other words, pulling that suit off the rack results in an ill-fitting outcome that pales in comparison to custom-tailored results.

This is true because processes are inherently dependent on the nature of your company’s leadership, its human resources and its culture. To achieve success, you need to achieve operational excellence within your own organization as well as well as within your industry.

For the best results, ensure your process optimization initiatives have accommodated the variables contributed by the human elements of your organization. While half of the initiative is focused on processes, the other half should be focused on people. Begin by examining the following:

 • Ease of adapting to change: Some organizations accept change better than others, which again is highly dependent upon the people and the culture. On one end of the spectrum are managers who advocate for change, are dynamic and flexible, and are very comfortable with risk. On the other end are people who would rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick. All process reengineering involves proactive change management specific to your culture; you cannot afford to disregard this factor.

 • Team dynamics: Another aspect of the people factor is the proficiency of team dynamics. Assess which teams work together most successfully, and which need improvement. You’ll find two key factors: how well people communicate and how well they collaborate. Teams need a blend of personalities to achieve balance. For example, a team containing people who are all great at the “big picture” view won’t capture the details necessary to achieve operational excellence.

 • Team expertise: Along with team dynamics, assess team members’ expertise. It’s risky to allow an entire team’s proficiency to be dependent upon one person’s strengths. Analyze the interrelationships between team members’ strengths and weaknesses; identify opportunities for training and also how you can better balance teams when making new hires.

To achieve organizational efficiencies, remember that your organization is composed of many living, fluid elements that can’t be dressed in a baggy, one-size-fits-all outfit. To make the most impact, it needs a custom-tailored suit.

Management consultant Candice Benson is CEO of Benson Consulting Inc. Connect with her and her blog here.

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