Technology and operational expertise are enablers

You need to build for the future, create a modular platform that allows you to use the right technology tools at the right time to achieve your long-term goals.

“Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler,” said Albert Einstein.

When it comes to technology and operational excellence, it is high time to apply this principle. When it comes to solving problems, techno-optimism becomes absurd. Many of the problems facing the world today are so complex that solving them requires more than just innovation. First of all, it is necessary to make the difference between technology and technological tools. It is not the same thing at all, especially in this context, and I will explain why. Technology is as old as humanity. The wheel is a marvel of invention, an ingenious technological tool that has served men for millennia. It is a technological instrument that has enabled humanity, along with other tools, to build the world we live in today. The main interest of the technology is its utility and applicability depending on what we want to achieve. When using a technology, it is therefore necessary to choose the appropriate tool carefully.

From experience, I know that when it comes to operational excellence, any decision must be made based on the following four key points:

  1. What are your key long-term strategic goals? In general, we set ourselves short-term goals, for example, to “put out the fire”, or to reach goals for the end of the year. But this mindset often causes the still glowing embers to start again. You must build for the future, create a modular platform that allows you to use the right technology tools at the right time to achieve your long-term goals: Choose a methodical and disciplined approach to building operational excellence.
  2. Do you initially need a digitized environment? In some cases, it is not digitization that you need, but innovation and thinking to create an effective environment based on a digitized format. This means that a complete breakdown and thorough review of the problem must be performed. If necessary, use the “Five Whys” method or any other similar questions. I’ve always found this to make sense when taking on a new function or dealing with a case of daily activity. In general, it requires training, development, organizational restructuring and the elimination of redundant processes, procedures and documents. You need to go back to the basics, that is, ask yourself what exactly is your essential function. And on this basis, make everyone responsible for every action within their respective field and within the value chain in which they participate.
  3. The mission: Who are we? What should we do? How should we do it? In order to support the entire organization in the long term, it is essential to use the right technological tools. This is where management has a key role to play in defining the organization’s vision and strategy, involving all stakeholders and bringing them together around the intended future operating model or the achievement of strategic goals. It may sound elementary, but the manager’s role is to understand the technology and the business environment at every step of the way to the goal. The leader must establish the structure that enables his teams to work best in their respective roles, using the most appropriate technological tools.
  1. Choose the right technology at the right time. For your efforts to succeed, you need to align several key components: technology, your teams, key stakeholders (eg front office/business front), and your leadership team. Each party has a crucial role to play:
  1. Technology. Its main function is to support the company. The technology must take into account the current business model and the long-term goal structure. Reviewing the available technologies will give the company an idea of ​​the existing opportunities and upcoming challenges. Additionally, it should help the company identify appropriate vendors to run any infrastructure program; it must therefore be part of the selection process at the time of contract award.
  1. Teams/end users. The end users are the most important stakeholder. They must be part of the process from the start. They must be fully informed, accountable and “own” the goals and know what the desired positive outcome will be. In order to compose the central project team, smart, knowledgeable and experienced people with a good work ethic and the ability to think outside the box should be selected from a wide range of responsibilities in the organization (depending on the scope of the initiative).
  1. The management team. It is the leadership team’s responsibility to define the vision and the boundaries of what is practical, achievable and within what timeframe. In this area, transparency and honesty are essential. A roadmap with clear, quantifiable and qualified goals should be drawn up. In general, end users will be willing to compromise if they believe that progress towards a better future is assured. All senior managers, as budget holders, will receive regular updates, which should be short, to the point and to the point. In addition, these regular reports should include key indicators, milestones, highlights and weaknesses. This information will build trust and credibility within the organization and provide transparency to external stakeholders.

These suggestions and recommendations are not prescriptive. These are only rudimentary solutions. These are personal observations that I have collected over time about which methods have worked best in many cases and which I have often used to achieve my goals. I hope these practical tips will prove useful in the exercise of your respective functions.

By Michael Okwusogu, Founder and Managing Partner of ValueX Partners

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