The Post-Covid Rewind
Enabling Prevention and Protection with Operational Resilience
Emergency Management organizations are stretched thin across the frontlines of ongoing natural and man-made disasters. The likes of which are growing in frequency, cost, scope, and scale. To help them keep up, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has encouraged Emergency Management organizations to adopt five focus areas as part of their National Preparedness Goal. And enhanced operational practices are the key to effectively leaning into two of these vital focus areas – prevention and protection. The former starts from within, requiring leaders to build operational resiliency and flexibility within their organizational structures, technology, and processes. This ultimately supports the latter, as protection relies on operational flexibility. Aligning with these focus areas – with operational resilience in mind – will enable disaster response teams to protect against ongoing vulnerabilities and proactively prevent future ones from manifesting. The following outlines three areas of opportunity for Emergency Management organizations to strengthen their operations and prevent internal interruptions, so they can focus on their main goal: serving our communities in times of crisis.
Empowering Your People to Make the Energy Transition
Facing urgent demand for green energy transition, while also trying to navigate the post-Covid changes of the modern workplace, many energy and utilities (E&U) companies may be struggling to maintain the complex rituals of operational excellence. However, letting these practices fall to the wayside can ultimately compromise your position in the market while running the race to decarbonization. You need to fuel operational excellence before you can fully focus on new energy solutions. That means finding ways to empower new talent, optimize emerging technologies, and enable predictability through data. The following spotlights ways to intentionally manage three things—employee mobility, productivity, and technology—to continue meeting the demands of your business facilitating the work of energy transition while creating an environment that allows people to do their best work.
Future-Ready Operational Excellence Solutions for the Transportation Ecosystem of Tomorrow
Transportation organizations are moving swiftly to stay in front of an evolving industry, one marked by Mobility as a Service, decarbonization mandates, first mile/last mile integration, and workforce shortages. However, amidst this fast-paced change, many organizations have put the foundational rituals of operational excellence —the very things that will allow them to maintain speed on the road ahead—in the backseat. In the following, discover how to establish future-ready operational excellence strategies; strategies that empower a new generation of talent, optimize emerging technology and solutions, and maximize productivity.
How to Balance Compliance with Continuous Improvement in Financial Services
Bank failures, escalating regulatory demands, inflationary pressures, and an influx of Fintech upstarts in the past several years have left incumbent financial services companies scrambling to remain competitive while simultaneously achieving regulatory compliance. And, post-pandemic, technology continues evolving, talent is on the move, and the shifting targets of compliance and financial markets obfuscate the road ahead. To keep up, financial services companies are renewing their focus on operational excellence to drive continuous improvement and productivity. The following blog outlines how to get started, and details the central role of your people in elevating your operations. You’ll learn how to take an intentional approach to growth amidst ongoing uncertainty, plus best practices for strategically leveraging employee mobility, productivity, and technology to enhance compliance and create an environment that allows your employees to do their best work.
Post-Covid Operational Excellence at the Speed and Scale of Life Sciences Breakthroughs
It’s easy to deprioritize the routines of operational excellence when you’re busy battling a global pandemic. Now, chasing a groundswell of promise around RNA, CRISPR, and cell and gene therapies, your life sciences organization is poised for continued breakthroughs at breakneck speeds. Yet, this surge of potential comes hand in hand with a host of challenges: a tightening labor market, regulatory hurdles, persistent supply chain disruptions, pricing pressures, escalating R&D costs, and more. To navigate this dynamic landscape while maintaining a steadfast commitment to continuous improvement, leaders in life sciences must get back to the basics and reprioritize operational excellence to maximize the impact of people, data, and technology. In the following blog, discover pragmatic opportunities to enhance your operations –through internal talent mobility, productivity, technology, and more – to support a pipeline prepared to grow at the scale and speed of global health.
How to Fast Track Future-Ready Operational Excellence
As businesses transition away from a period dominated by pandemic response, they face a new set of challenges like gross stagnation, inflation, and a tightening labor market. While these challenges might not be new at their core, they do require new responses in our post-Covid-19 world. Importantly, businesses need operations that are future-focused and flexible. Partnering with experts in Managed Services provides an adaptive strategy for meeting this need, by designing flexible operating systems, tools, and capabilities within any workforce. Through Managed Services, you’ll receive advice on how to align your talent sourcing strategy with your business needs to create a sustainable foundation for success. The following blog outlines reasons you should renew your focus on operational best practices. It provides actionable tips for enhancing employee mobility, increasing productivity, and maximizing your technology investments – taking you one step closer to operational excellence.
The modern workplace is undergoing something of a tightrope act, as businesses look to strike a balance between the imperative to deliver and the mandate to create an environment that attracts and retains highly skilled workers. Rather than viewing high revenue and employee satisfaction as an 'either/or’ decision, these businesses are searching for ways to attain both.
It’s a stark contrast to the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many companies with a large workforce—particularly those with a high percentage of service or blue-collar workers, like hospitality, retail, and manufacturing—had trouble simply getting people to show up for work.
Rather than responding to widespread turnover and workforce stagnation, companies were laser-focused on serving the customer or getting the product out the door. And in many cases, all of the operational investments they had made in the preceding years—for example, Lean systems, productivity trackers, and the like—simply fell by the wayside.
Essentially, they experienced “Tyranny of the Urgent,” where the rapid pace of demand, coupled with lack of strategic prioritization, caused inefficient and ineffective task management. Getting swept up in the basic needs and tasks required to meet consumer demand caused leaders to lose sight of the complex rituals of best practices, also known as operational excellence.
But with the pandemic now largely in the rear-view mirror, companies are facing a different set of challenges in the form of gross stagnation and inflation, as well as a tightening labor market.
Now, leaders across industries have an opportunity to embrace a changing landscape and renew their focus on operational excellence. Many are getting back to best practices by:
Holding themselves and their people accountable for continuous improvement.
Becoming increasingly interested in tracking productivity.
Leveraging new advances and innovations that came out of the pandemic.
Reestablishing a mindset focused on productivity and operational excellence.
While some of these practices should feel familiar to experienced leaders, and the core principles of operational excellence remain the same, companies must turn to newer tools and solutions that honor a new kind of worker. That’s not to say leaders need a complete overhaul of operational best practices. But what they do need is to find ways to bring operational excellence solutions into the future. Programs, strategies, and even metrics need to be modernized for today’s post-pandemic worker who has evolved to ask more than ever from their employer.
But by intentionally managing employee mobility, productivity, and technology with these shifts in mind, companies can turn their attention to the complex demands of today's market while creating an environment that allows people to do their best work.
Enabling internal mobility for operational excellence
In a tightening labor market, internal talent mobility becomes particularly important—in fact, internal mobility increased 20 percent during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reason behind this surge lies in the fact that when hiring slows or even comes to a halt, companies must be able to redeploy their people effectively, enabling them to adapt quickly to changing business demands. Not only that, but prioritizing and fostering internal mobility also serves as a powerful driver for employee retention.
The companies that are doing it well today have created a system that is easy for people to move in and out of with ease. The operational system has to run like a factory, and that includes an understanding of the jobs to be done and the skills needed. Smart companies can make the work more routine—and the people more mobile and flexible.
“People who move around the company,” writes industry analyst Josh Bersin, “gain perspective, cultural insights, and can perform in unique and productive ways because of their relationships and knowledge of all parts of the company.”
How to enable the shift from external to internal mobility
Remove career silos. When people are able to move around within an organization, they are empowered to become masters of context, rather than specialists in a function or skill. The former is better equipped to adapt and apply diverse knowledge to various situations beyond the confines of a specific skill—making them an invaluable business asset. Create capacity for people to absorb more of the business by defining expectations and the general path that needs to be taken, then allowing people some flexibility around that.
Find a happy medium between capability and skill development. Consider the automotive industry, where manufacturers are facing pressure to shift to electric vehicles (EVs). It’s tempting for many companies to take the opportunity to replace an aging workforce with younger employees who understand the EV world, but what those veteran employees do know is how to deliver an automobile to the market. And that can be much more important than knowing how an EV motor works, which is simply a skill within a capability.
Tap into different employee strengths. It’s a balance between infusing new talent that understands the new technology and pairing them with people who have proven experience in bringing products or services to market. Change management and intentional cultural change will be required; some of the people who have developed robust capabilities may not be comfortable working within new skill sets, but focusing on internal mobility is an excellent place to start.
Understand the work to be done. Everyone is focused on getting to know their people and evaluating their skills. Some are even investing in AI-enabled technology to facilitate this and make the process easier. But all of the skill mapping has little value if you don’t have a clear idea of what initiatives, projects, or tasks you’d like your employees to handle. Sure, you may be able to ask HR who can drive a forklift, but that won’t tell you whether you need forklifts or if it’s time to embrace a more digitized system/digital approach. Knowing your people and what they can do is vital, but the missing puzzle piece for many is knowing the work that needs to be done.
Embrace failure as an acceptable—even a desired—outcome. People in the workforce today are seeking the experience of trying. Take L’Oreal for example, where internal candidates fill 75 percent of company roles posted online. If you’ve created an environment where someone can move around and try something new, even if they ultimately learn that they’re not good at it, they often benefit from and value that experience. It’s a low-risk approach, even if they do fail in a particular role, because they remain with the company, keeping institutional knowledge in place. When considering the example set by L’Oreal, that level of knowledge retention adds up. They can learn something about a new area, then move and bring that knowledge to another area of the organization. Through directed trust, transparency, and empowerment, you are building an organization that is made for change.
Increasing productivity drives operational excellence
We think about productivity in a few different ways.
Workforce productivity: Getting more done with the same number of team members; or, alternatively, enabling the organization to dig into fewer things. It requires narrowing the focus in a way that delivers higher “people ROI” and value.
Asset productivity: Many asset-intensive companies are starting to lighten the assets that they own. In its place, they’re looking to do a little more strategic outsourcing and strategic partnering with others who may be able to run those assets more effectively.
Technology productivity: Effectively using the tools you have to their greatest capability by enabling your people to get the most out of existing technology.
At the heart of each of these is the need to get the most out of the investments you’ve already made—in people, assets, and technologies.
How to increase productivity in a way that delivers operational excellence
Look at the end-to-end system. How are your people being deployed, how are your assets paired with one another, and how does your technology daisy chain? Productivity is a matter of balancing the end result with the needs. If you efficiently produce 15 cars in a day but only sell six, your system is imbalanced. By looking at the system holistically, rather than bucketing it into tasks and activities, you can find the efficiencies that are required to improve productivity.
Set strong metrics that enable you to react quickly. If you’re producing 15 cars but only sell six, ensure that that information is fed back into the system immediately, so the system can trigger change. Productivity requires built-in flexibility, and you leverage that when you have healthy data informing you when you need to be flexible.
Enable predictability. To have operational excellence and productivity, you need to have some level of predictability in your systems. The last few years have been anything but predictable, but the best companies have found ways to minimize the noise from the world around them and identify some basic factors that are predictable. They can then set expectations with leaders and the workforce on how to drive operational excellence with the things that are under their control. And an added benefit of enabling predictability is that it can provide you with data-driven insights you need to understand where and how to best automate your systems.
Move from big bets to small ones. Market leaders who used to rely on making big bets are increasingly driving value and increasing operational excellence by adapting not with big sweeping changes but rather by changing little and often. By focusing instead on smaller initiatives, you can scale repeatedly and see a greater ROI from your investments.
Using technology to remove the toil from work
Picture this: a world where success isn't measured by the latest gadgets or high-priced tools, but by the innovative ways organizations optimize and amplify their existing resources. That world is not out of reach, but it’s a paradigm shift that promotes creativity, strategic thinking, and resourcefulness.
As with the labor market, many corporate budgets are tightening due to the current market climate, leaving many unsure of how they can keep up with evolving technologies.
But tighter budgets don’t have to hold you back from using tech to achieve operational excellence —you just need to get creative. The trick is to reconsider how you invest in and deploy technology. Rather than focusing primarily on shiny new technologies, it’s paramount that you tap into the potential of investments you have already made. Once this is accomplished, it’s time to integrate tech into operational excellence principles.
At the heart of it, the true purpose and value of technology is to remove the mundane, repeated parts of people’s jobs—which is where AI really excels. AI is an unmatched resource for enabling better business decision-making in both day-to-day activities and long-term strategizing. Technology should allow people to explore the higher-level opportunities that they are capable of. It should remove the toil from work— freeing up time and energy, allowing individuals to focus on more meaningful and valuable contributions. Allowing your business to realize the “people ROI.”
How to harness technology to achieve operational excellence
Unfortunately, new or revamped investments in technology will only go so far. Successfully deploying tech for operational excellence requires metric alignment, a strong data-culture, and a dedication to incremental change.
Align on a few key metrics. You can only maximize your use of technology if you have strong data that allows you to measure whether you are making progress. Some companies have no established way of measuring productivity, while others have dozens of metrics. Both of which make it hard to evaluate the impact of initiatives designed to help people work more productively. To find the proper median, it’s vital to identify a limited number of metrics that are aligned with strategic goals and priorities.
Prioritize data from the outset of implementation. After defining your goals and identifying the types/areas of productivity that require improvement, the next step is strategically planning how you can achieve those objectives. That is where data takes center stage—it should become the compass guiding your implementation journey from the start. By placing data at the forefront, you set the stage for a focused and results-driven implementation process, where every step is backed by evidence and optimized for success.
Make technology feel more like an update than an investment. In our daily lives, we are accustomed to regular updates of the apps we use, but we often have more trouble accepting it in our professional lives. But this philosophy should extend to our work—tech should feel more like an update than an investment. If you are able to approach tech in this manner, and allow people to work with it that way, you can enable change, little and often. Embracing incremental improvements helps keep your organization up-to-date and reduces the risk of tech enhancements being event-based (and much more disruptive and expensive) in the future.
In an era of lingering uncertainty, the pursuit of operational excellence calls for a profound mindset shift. Leaders who take an intentional approach to growth, understanding that it may be somewhat limited in this post-Covid-19 pandemic environment, can ensure that they are making the most of the people, tools, and technologies they have in place and concentrating their resources in the areas that will deliver change, little and often, most effectively.