WHAT IS “OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE” AND HOW WILL THIS COURSE HELP ME?
No organization stands alone – at least not for long. If you ran the only business in your market and you had a highly desirable product that was flying off the shelves and you had no competitors nipping at your heels, then this course may not be needed, but that is highly unlikely. The reality is that your business exists in an open marketplace and, as such, there will always be competitors who be trying to do it better, faster, cheaper…and when they do, they will take customers from you – guaranteed! Being a good operator imposes a discipline on a business. It forces its leaders to ask questions about the best use of resources and it forces it to remain focused on its core mission.
PROCESS MAPPING: A FIRST STEP IN IN ACHIEVING OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE
The history of business is filled with stories of businesses that were not the first out with a product, did not have the best sales team, and did not spend the most on marketing, yet still won the game long-term because they ran a better operation. They were able to streamline operations, cut costs, remove errors and maximize efficiency and all of this allowed them to either bring their product to market at a lower price point and/or maximize profits. This section introduces the first step to operational analysis: process mapping. Before you can think about whether there are better ways to do what you do (such as removing bottlenecks or identifying over-capacity issues), you have to have a very clear picture of how you do it now.
ERRORS COST MONEY – AND SOMETIMES DESTROY COMPANIES
Production errors, miscommunications on design specification, product defects – all of these not only erode profits, they can (if serious enough) literally drive a company to its knees. Mistakes are the gremlins of modern fast-paced business. In the race to be the first out the door and deliver the best price on a product, errors can creep in and literally destroy a business. Sometimes that destruction comes from consumer fallout when inferior products are brought to market and eventually the company’s reputation gets so tarnished that it has to entirely rebrand itself or shut down. Sometimes the destruction comes from the costs associated with doing something two or three times when it should have been once – right! This section explores some the most effective tools for identifying and eliminating production errors and presents Jack’s guidance on the most important things that managers have to stay on top of.
Business growth is all about looking into on the future. For managers with operational responsibilities, that look into the future includes accurately projecting needs, expenses and outputs. A manager who can’t do this well is heading for disaster. Inaccurate budgets get created, deadlines get missed, and too much (or too little) is spent. Effective managers have to be able to build business plans that prepare the organization for what is coming in order to deliver services on time and on budget, while also preparing contingency plans for alternate scenarios if things don’t unfold as expected. This section address the key issues that must be accounted for in projecting operating costs and introduces “what-if” checklist to help plan for the unexpected.
CAPACITY ANALYSIS: BALANCING CURRENT NEEDS AGAINST FUTURE GROWTH
An efficient business has to strike the right balance between utilizing current resources as efficiently as possible and having the capacity to step up when new opportunities arise to grow the business. Shift the balance too far in once direction and you may have everything running at maximum efficiency but there is no capacity or capability to react quickly to growth opportunities. Shift too far in the other direction and you risk underutilizing capital, having people, equipment or product sitting around waiting for the future to unfold. This section focuses on the key tools that managers can use to strike the right balance (as well as what can be done if adjustments are needed along the way).
INVENTORY AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT: WHAT SHOULD YOU OWN, OUTSOURCE AND STOP DOING ALTOGETHER?
Even if your business in a one-person show, what you build and sell sits somewhere in a supply chain. You may be toward the upstream end of that chain if your business supplies raw materials or parts, or you may be more toward the downstream end if you are the retailer to the consumer, but you’re in there somewhere. How well you manage that chain is critical. This section explores the processes managers can employ to ensure that they control what they need to control and have sufficient (but not excessive) inventory to meet demand.
UNIVERSAL BEST PRACTICES
This section of our course ties together the practices presented up to this point. We explore the similarities and differences between operational management practices in business that are primarily manufacturing business and those that are primarily service business. In exploring the similarities and differences, we examine how best practices from other industries might be deployed in one’s own industry.
GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR TEAM
Jack has said numerous times that “a business is its people.” If those people are the best and the brightest and they are working in highly efficient teams, then the business has the most important building blocks for success. However, if team members are in the wrong roles and engaged in tasks that take them away from mission-critical activities then we have a serious operational issue on our hands. This section covers Jack’s essential management rules of improving the productivity of the team.
Great operational managers are never satisfied. They are always looking for new ways to improve production, eliminate errors and reduce costs. Sometimes terrific gains can be had from modest changes. Other times a significant redesign of the whole operational structure is needed. Knowing what to change and how significant a change to make is dependent on dozens of interconnected elements. This section presents the key questions every manager must ask if they are considering a significant re-design of an existing process. It covers the need to employ proven leadership practices to ensure you have the support you need to make the change, that you can accurately benchmark “before and after” outcomes and that the new processes, once instituted, that you don’t slip back to the old ways.