Goals? What Goals??
In order to be successful, any improvement programme has to have set goals. But how do we balance short term versus long term requirements? Where and how should a business set its priorities? Balancing short-term and long-term goals is crucial in any operational excellence transformation. Operational excellence refers to an organisation’s ability to consistently achieve high levels of performance and efficiency by optimising processes, reducing waste, and continuously improving operations. This transformation often involves significant changes to the company’s culture, processes, and technology.
There are some key considerations that are essential for balancing short-term and long-term goals in an operational excellence transformation:
Define Clear Objectives:
Begin by setting clear and specific short-term and long-term objectives. Short-term goals should focus on addressing immediate challenges and quick wins, while long-term goals should align with the organisation’s overall strategic vision. In both cases, alignment is key to avoid conflicting goals which we so often see when we review a company’s KPIs.
Quick Wins for Momentum:
In the early stages of the transformation, focus on quick wins to demonstrate the benefits of operational improvements. These early successes build momentum, increase buy-in from stakeholders, and generate enthusiasm for the transformation process. These quick wins also act as “confidence builders” that lay the foundations for accelerated implementation going forwards.
Prioritise Impactful Changes:
Identify areas with the most significant impact on performance and customer satisfaction. Balance quick wins with initiatives that may take longer but offer substantial long-term benefits. An alternative approach is to also view those changes that act as a “shop window” for the business – very visible with striking results for all stakeholders to see.
Invest in Employee Training and Development:
Building a culture of continuous improvement requires investing in employee training and development. This may temporarily impact short-term productivity but is essential for long-term success. The caveat is NOT to try and train everyone in one go – we have seen many an initiative falter and dry up due to training everyone first then raising that false expectation that they will be involved in a project “soon” – only to see their enthusiasm wain when they are not involved for a long period of time after receiving the training.
Allocate resources strategically to ensure that both short-term and long-term initiatives receive the necessary support. Avoid allocating resources solely based on immediate financial returns. Equally as important as allocation is to ensure resources are released from their day-to-day activities, or a suitable proportion of them, in order to give the projects due attention and focus.
Communication and Stakeholder Engagement:
Maintain open communication with all stakeholders throughout the transformation process. Share progress updates, celebrate successes, and address concerns. Engaged stakeholders are more likely to support the transformation in the long run. Good communications engender continued support and interest – visible results are imperative.
Recognise that significant changes can bring potential risks and challenges. Have contingency plans in place to manage unexpected obstacles and minimise disruptions to operations. There will always be those who prefer not to get involved or want to sit on the fence to pass judgment later – provision MUST be made for these people as they are still important to the business.
Measure and Evaluate:
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress and success in both the short and long term. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives and adjust strategies as needed. If certain KPIs are being easily achieved, look to change the measure so it stretches the team more and looks for that next stepchange.
Operational excellence requires a cultural shift within the organisation. Emphasise the importance of embracing change and continuous improvement as core values. Always be on the lookout for approaches becoming “stale” and look for ways to maintain involvement and buy-in.
Consider adopting an iterative approach where short-term improvements lead to continuous refinements and enhancements. This allows for flexibility in adapting to changing market conditions and customer needs.
Remember that the balance between short-term and long-term goals may vary based on the organisation’s specific context and industry. Striking the right balance ensures that the operational excellence transformation brings about sustainable improvements and positions the organisation for long-term success.