Why Do You Do What You Do?

imageMany people start their own business for a variety of reasons: extra income, want to be their own boss, freedom of when and when not to work, stay at home parent, and a whole host of other reasons. However, many of these businesses fail over time, often because the owner didn’t document, follow, and constantly update a strategic business plan. The often overlooked and seldom thought about aspects of any strategic and business plan, is deep down, why you’re doing what you’re doing and where you want it to go — the mission and vision. Sure, many companies have an idea and even some of them they write it down. But, how good are these statements for your company?

Join John Knotts, a strategic business advisor with over 25 years’ experience working with companies of all sizes to improve their business operations. The first questions he asks in any engagement are: what do you do, why do you do it, where are you today, and where are you going. These questions begin to form, what he calls, the ‘Strategic Bridge’, a visual representation of your strategy at work.

Bring your current mission and vision statements for you company and let’s examine, along with John, what you do and why you do it.

Bulverde Spring Branch Business Networking
Friday, August 18, 2017, 8:45 am
St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde (The Red Roof Church)
29797 US-281, Bulverde TX 78163
Free to attend

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Experience-based Operational Excellence

customerexperiencepuzzle

The Customer Experience

Experience means many things.  An experience is a direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge.  In other words, the customer experiences something through observation or participation.  Experience also relates to a customer as the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation.  In other words, the customer has experienced things with the company that they base opinion on.  Also, experience is related to an individual based on their practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity.  Customers all have different experiences that make up their background.  Individual experience is often related in the terms of degrees, certifications, and/or years of involvement in a particular thing.

In a nutshell, customer experience (CX) is something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through by a customer with a certain company.  It is the product of an interaction between a company and a customer over the duration of their relationship.  This interaction includes their attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, and purchase and use of a service.

CX is simply the result of everything that makes up the company’s product or service delivery, visible or not.

Problems with Customer Experience Today

Many companies today only focus on the ‘touchpoints’–the critical moments when customers interact with the company and its offerings to establish the customer experience.  This is often depicted in marketing as an experience map.  Often, this is a narrow focus on what is important to the customer’s satisfaction at specific moments and often creates a distorted picture of the overall experience.  This can lead a company to believe customers are happier with the company’s products and services than they actually are.  This approach also diverts attention from the bigger and more important picture–the customer’s end-to-end journey.[i]

An emphasis on Operational Excellence within an company as the driver of the CX is important to carefully consider.

Experience-based Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence (OpX), as an official business concept, has not been around very long and is often misconstrued.  The best way to look at OpX is to think of it as an end-to-end enterprise-wide management practice that aligns everything in the organization toward driving excellence.[ii]  From a perspective of the CX, OpX essentially represents an organization’s focus on all things that affect the customer’s experience (see Figure 1).

 X-Based OpX

Figure 1: Experience-based Operational Excellence

     Normally, companies view CX as a result of the product itself.  Some broaden the view into the processes that impact the product delivery and many companies see OpX as nothing more than the application of process management and Lean Six Sigma improvement processes.[iii]  In reality, true OpX represents the end-to-end enterprise-wise business management.  The ‘experience’ is at the very center of where the product, process, and employee intersect–this is what the customer sees and feels.  The entire experience is influenced by high-level company strategies, internal and external communication, and employee development.  Everything within the company is supported by an innovative layer that includes technology and information.

Thus, everything in the organization is important in the CX equation and focusing simply on touchpoints will represent a lack of true focus on the CX.  From a company’s perspective, there are several representative performance metrics that are important to the overall CX.  A company cannot simply look at metrics like sales and net promoter score, but must consider all company performance as critical to the CX.  There are many things that measure the experience, but can generally be referred to as satisfaction, sentiment, and relationship.

Summary

In summary, the traditional view of CX as a stand-alone activity represents a shortsighted view of what is important to the customer.  Although much of what makes up OpX is out of the customer’s view, it all leads to the CX and must be considered and aligned.

[i] Rawson, A., Duncan, E., & Jones, C. (2013). The Truth About Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review.

[ii] Boothe, W., & Lindborg, S. (2014). Handbook to achieve operational excellence: A realistic guide including all tools needed. Ft Myers FL: Reliabilityweb.com.

[iii] Crabtree, R. (2010). Driving operational excellence: Successful lean six sigma secrets to improve the bottom line. Livonia MI: MetaOps Publishing.

Fix Your Roof When the Sun is Shining

Lisa Hershman, Denovo Group, has a phrase, “We never fix the roof when the sun is shining.”

I don’t know if I really need to explain the saying, but often businesses wait until stuff goes wrong to try to fix it. Then, it becomes an emergency break fix and it is done poorly because they lack sufficient time to really solve the problem.

The thing is, in business, fixing things when the sun is shining applies to everything. This basically means fixing things that really are not broken.

Off the top of my head, here are a few items that we neglect until it is too late and then do wrong because we are hard-pressed to simply get it done.

Planning. Strategic, operational, and even tactical planning, we are tremendously poor at in business, but specifically strategic planning is often overlooked. All too often, businesses look to strategic planning when they are having significant problems and they think it will solve their problems (the proverbial silver bullet). The problem is that strategic planning is a long range effort (hence strategic) and not designed to solve tactical problems.

Process improvement. All too often businesses let shoddy processes continue as the company grows and they ignore things like defects, poor customer service, and excessive process variance until too late. Then, when everything related to the process is falling apart, suddenly the business tries to solve the problems that took years to manifest in the process. What is worse, all too often all of the business processes are in the same state of disrepair and instead of just fixing one process, the business tries to create a full blown process organization and expect it to happen overnight.

Development. Businesses often look to training to solve a problem, but do not look at development when there isn’t a problem. If you are considering going into a leadership position, this is when you start learning about leadership, not six years after becoming a leader and you suck at it. However, we get very tactical when it comes to solving problems with training as the solution.

These are just a few examples of how businesses become very reactive to things and treat everything as a fire fighter versus a fire marshal. Living the advice of Lisa Hershman is very important for all of us.

When You Need A Swiss Army Knife in Business

Lately I have met several organizations that are at a crossroads in their own evolution. Many companies realize the importance of things like strategy, change management, process improvement, strategic communication, and employee engagement. However, these organizations are making tactical decisions on the direction of these areas versus truly looking at this from a strategic perspectives.

Instead of hiring several different individuals or creating separate teams all focused on doing the same thing, companies today should should focus on bringing all their Operational Excellence activities under one team working directly for the CEO or President of the company.  This group should be led by a senior leader that sits at the same table as the companies other leaders.

This Swiss Army Knife professional–SVP/VP, Operational Excellence–should manage things like:
– Strategy development, execution, and change
– Performance optimization through process, product, and functional continuous improvement
– Strategic communication inside and outside the organization
– Strategic human capital management to include education, training, and development and employee satisfaction, commitment, and engagement
– Information and innovation engagement

This team does not need to be big…depending on an organization’s size, it could be as small as three or four people.  However, it should leverage other support areas throughout the organization, like Human Resources, Finance, IT, etc. These organizations would not report to the position, but work with the position.

Today, some organizations have some or all of these activities occuring, but they are scattered across the organization and have very little singular direction. By bringing the functions together into a small effective team, an organization is equipped to deal with the challenges of today and the future.

Of course, the leaders of these types of organizations have to have a solid understanding of all these functions at strategic, operatiomal, and tactical levels and not focused on creating some massive sandbox of people with various skills. They need to be highly skilled with a focus on lean and mean.

Continuous Improvement Development for Leadership and Professionals

Train your leaders first to change the culture

Oftentimes we get leadership support to an initiative to change the culture, but they don’t have the actual skills to implement the changes they’re supporting.  Before you can expect your front-line employees to live a culture of continuous improvement, you have to develop your leaders, managers, and professionals.  Everything we’ve discussed over the past six blogs have built to this.  See how building a culture of continuous improvement starts with developing leadership and professionals.

http://ngs.edu/2014/06/20/building-culture-continuous-improvement-continuous-improvement-development-leadership-professionals/

A Continuous Improvement Culture isn’t built in a day–it takes strategy

Building a Continuous Improvement Culture begins with the development of a strategy.  This blog continues our discussion with National Graduate School.  In this blog, I provide a strategic framework to help you develop your own culture change.  Although I can’t tell you everything you need to develop–I can help you better understand the strategic steps you need to take and why you need to take them.

http://ngs.edu/2014/05/27/building-culture-continuous-improvement-crafting-continuous-improvement-strategy/

Culture, most important aspect of establishing continuous improvement

We talk about “culture” all the time and there is often a misconception of what culture is.  According to Gallup, 30% of the US workforce is can be considered engaged in their work.  A Continuous Improvement Culture depends on an employee based that is engaged.  Building and Sustaining and Quality Culture had over twice as many sessions as three of the other theme and focus areas at the recent ASQ Conference, which presents it as one of the most important aspects in quality today.  Continue on my journey with National Graduate School as we explore my Continuous Improvement Culture Model and discuss ways to drive this culture into your organization.

http://ngs.edu/2014/05/08/building-culture-continuous-improvement-culture-building/

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