Elements of a Successful Optimization Program

 “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”

W. Edward Deming

Organizational optimization is defined as the alignment and leveraging of an organization’s resources to realize its stated goals/objectives. Organizational optimization exists at the intersection of high efficiency, high effectiveness, and high utilization of all relevant and then currently available resources at an organization’s disposal. By optimizing your organization, you will achieve improved productivity, profitability and competitive strength.

The Optimized Organization

Optimizing organizations requires focus in four primary areas that I call elements:

(1) process redesign;

(2) structured workforce development;

(3) improved role clarity;

(4) transparent goal setting.

Each element can and is often executed in isolation; however, the four operate exponentially better as an interdependent collective, creating a fully compatible system able to drive optimal performance.  In this blog post we will examine the first two elements.

Process Redesign. This first element of organizational optimization involves redefining and re-streamlining existing workflows to yield a more effective and efficient organization. This is most effectively accomplished by asking the following question, for every significant process and task utilized by the company:

How does this process benefit our customer?”

By asking and answering the question repeatedly and working single-mindedly to eliminating tasks where the answer is either opaque or negative, one very quickly eliminates non-mission critical tasks that suck up valuable time and resources.

Traditional Process for Customer Interaction:

Modern Process for Customer Interaction:

By placing the customer at the center of all potential touchpoints, the optimized organization foremost focuses on improving those things that impact the customer.  This customer centric program should be applied methodically to key operating areas within an organization: (1) costs; (2) product/service quality; (3) process efficiency; and (4) speed of deliverance or execution.

Workforce Development. The workforce development element is the most difficult of the four focus areas, though the most fundamental to overall organization optimization. Workforce development seeks to match the right skills to the right strategic priority and seeks to do so at the right cost. Employees without the right skills or whose skills are out of alignment with the corporate priorities will either need to be retrained or will have to personally evolve as value-adding members of the restructured organization…or risk separation.

In my experience, a reliable set of steps to go about workforce development is as follows: First, begin with a competency assessment—i.e., a tool for identifying unique and/or appropriate skills and behaviors required to drive an organization, unit, or team toward its goals. These skills and behaviors should then be assessed against the backdrop of both the availability of complementary and substitutable capabilities across the organization as well as the employer’s needs.

Next, a plan to improve employee capabilities may then be developed and implemented for best-in-class results, optimized retention, and greatest cost effectiveness. Once developed and broadly implemented, the competency assessment process should become an ongoing tool used routinely to develop and drive success-behaviors and desired outcomes across the organization.

 

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