Guest post by Alex Figeroa
As businesses leverage Operational Excellence®, results matter. The huge positive impact that Operational Excellence® efforts can have on business results has been typically measured by translating primary and secondary process metrics to financial results where reduced cost, lower levels of cash to operate a business and enabling more revenue are, generally, the ultimate goals.
There is however, one more dimension of business results that can be attained by disciplined operation, recovering losses and eliminating excess process variation: enhanced individual and organizational capabilities. These critical organizational results might be harder to measure than conventional KPI’s. At the end of the day, Operational Excellence® – through proper coaching and mentorship – can unleash further opportunities for any business to improve continuously through the aligned efforts of knowledgeable, passionate, motivated and talented individuals. And doing so can become a clear enabler to creating more value for current and future customers.
Now Operational Excellence® coaching is not so much about teaching and training others, but collaborating with businesses and individuals to reach a better state. A new state that delivers not only better operational results but achieves its goals by building the right structure, creating superior knowledge and promoting the desired culture across the organization. From my vantage point, the best advice Operational Excellence® coaches can give is demonstrating genuine interest on the people they are coaching and asking the right questions.
When Operational Excellence® professionals actively coach others with an open expectation to challenge what is possible, every individual involved – including the coach – reaches a better state. And the approach to coaching might be really simple:
- What – Expose people to new and relevant tools they were not aware of before and that can be used to solve the operational challenges they are facing.
- How & When – Coach others to use the tools in the right context, with discipline, to objectively experiment with what they have learned. Regularly provide informal feedback.
- Who and Why – Operational Excellence tools will be used by individuals who want to learn them beyond rational and analytical reasons, there is always a deeper purpose: a compelling cause, strong beliefs and cultural elements to deal with. Being genuinely interested in the person and asking the right questions facilitates the process of uncovering what this purpose is, how to connect it to the tools being learned and to the improvement work being performed.
While I do not have hard facts as those that can be drawn by a logistic regression or a well designed experiment with conclusive evidence, my experience of over 2 decades coaching and mentoring others tells me that focusing on helping the individuals, as much as or even more than improving a process itself, leads to better and sustainable business and organizational results.
What is your experience coaching others?