Today’s CEO's are under pressure to use their leadership to build successful organisations that perform well in the market place and deliver shareholder value. Customers demand more value and quality products delivered on time and, when things go wrong, prompt customer service. For the CEO to deliver customer expectations, their organisation should be agile, cost effective and have efficient processes, staffed with competent and capable employees. This should constantly be improved within the organisation. The CEO needs solutions that allow them to meet the global challenges they face with competitors only too willing to poach customers. A mistake that often happens is to focus on business improvement tools, without first getting the strategy right. First, the priority is to perform strategy planning processes to define the mission, values, vision, strategy and Balanced Score Card, followed by employee goals.
Within the portfolio, a programme of Business and Process Improvements enable the organisation to achieve business goals. Once this is completed, it can be communicated so employees buy-in to the business improvement journey. Then, and only then, the approach, projects and tools become important for business improvement.
"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity" ~ Albert Einstein
1. Mission: Defines why we exist and is usually a short and simple statement used to communicate the purpose of an organisation. For example, “…be a global leader in providing our customers with products and services with superior quality and value…” Business improvement could be one of the organisation’s enablers to make this happen.
2. Values: Represents the core priorities and values of the organisation’s culture, as well as what drives their philosophy, principles and how the organisation truly behaves. In terms of business improvement, this could mean the organisation is committed to constant and ongoing improvement in everything they do.
3. Vision: Aspiration statement of what the organisation would like to accomplish in the future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action, mid-term or long-term. An example, “Our Vision is to put joy in...” Business improvement could support the vision by providing internal capability to drive performance and product quality that will differentiate them from the competition.
4. Strategy: Intended solution to improve the client's organisation, from their current state “a” to their desired and improved state “B”. It is the organisation’s action plan to achieve its business goals and objectives. The detailed portfolio, programmes and projects are developed, approved and resourced at this stage to close the “a” to “B” gap.
5. Balanced Score Card (BSC): Strategy performance management tool introduced by Kaplan and Norton. It can be used to measure the organisation’s activities in terms of its vision and strategies, providing the CEO and Board with a comprehensive view of business performance. It has four key interdependent element and improvements should be focused on each one:
Finance: Identify a few high-level financial measures that clearly indicate how well the company is doing, with revenue and expenses.
Customer: Key issues are customer satisfaction and focus on the delivery of products, services, customer service and as always cost, quality and schedule.
Learning: Focus on employee training and capability and how that impacts both individual and corporate improvement. Business improvement fits really well within the BSC as it can improve both employee skills and improve their ability to impact the other three elements.
Processes: Focus on internal business processes and measure if they are effective and efficient in terms of delivering to the customer.
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results” ~ Winston Churchill
6. Portfolio: The strategy will define the portfolio of programme and projects that the organisation will implement to deliver improved business results, enhance products or services, improve quality, schedule and finance performance. Business and process improvement could be one of the programmes to help enable the delivery of those business goals and objectives.
7. Annual Personal Performance Plan: Individual improvement targets are the vehicle to support personal development planning, but they also allow the organisation to link learning to their strategy. They should be SMART, linked to the BSC and the business improvement programme and projects.
Business Improvement Programme
Once the above strategy is in place, the portfolio can then be implemented and business improvement programmes and projects can be deployed. The deployment should be supported with change and programme management and with appropriate sponsorship. From experience, one of the least urgent priorities are the business improvement tool and methodologies.