To wrap-up my posts on OPEX 2020, I would like to share my reflections and key take-aways. Hopefully they resonate with you as well. I would love to hear your perspectives in the comments sections below.
How bad do you want it?
There are no silver bullets or yellow brick road. Culture, process or technology projects alone seldom lead to success. Success is enabled by a cohesive ecosystem – internally and externally – that is aligned and focused on delivering results against well-defined goals. It is critical for organizations to harness the energy of their ecosystem, put in the work to plan their own path, and then go after it with passion and tenacity. To put it simply, you must know who you are, where you want to go and be willing to put in the work. There is no shortcut.
Before I get into a few key takeaways, I must commend the PEX organization and OPEX attendees as this conference is one of the best forums for true collaboration and learning. I have attended this event for several years and what makes it different is the interaction of practitioners, thought leaders, analysts and the real-world conversations that help all of us understand how to move forward confidently.
Since my mind works in the power of 3’s, here’s the three main lessons I learned from the conference.
- Little ‘t’ leads to big ‘T’: Too often the word transformation used only for large endeavor. But transformation must start somewhere, somehow, and I have begun referring to that as little ‘t.’ Small changes can yield big results. At VW Credit Services, their head of process and quality management shared that, “the cost of poor documentation is real” and they believe that by better enabling people to conduct their work with proper documentation they could drive around $15 million in savings over 5 years. This is a great reminder that picking off “low hanging fruit” can yield tangible savings and outcomes. Stringing these little ‘t’ wins together as part of a bigger strategy can supercharge big ‘T’ transformation programs.
- Automation should complement, empower humans: Automation is a pendulum that, in recent years, may have swung to an extreme. In talking with people at the conference, the consensus is that automation isn’t going to replace humans across the board, but instead, will better enable the workforce to focus on the value add, customer centric work that machines simply can’t replicate at this time. We should continue investing in RPA, BPM, Process Mining, etc., in conjunction with a continued investment in our people, to deliver a more responsive, dynamic organization. Again, it is the alignment of the ecosystem that helps generate the desired outcomes.
- Real transformation isn’t a side job: I met many organizations who realize that a basic understanding of how they are leveraging their people, process and technology is the critical first step to taking any significant transformation forward. At MIT’s Lincoln Labs, a several billion dollar research organization, they realized that to drive sustainable, continuous improvement they needed to step back, understand their core processes and create a culture that focused on operational excellence and processes transparency. To champion this culture, they created a Business Transformation Office with the goal of embedding a process excellence mindset in the culture and working themselves out of job within 5 years.”