Chapter 12Operational Excellence Strategy

‘Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.’

—Jessica Guidobono

If I were to ask what you thought the seven most expensive words in business are, what do you think you’d answer? Personally, I’ve got seven that pop into my mind: ‘Because we’ve always done it that way.’ Or perhaps, its sister statement, the equally costly: ‘We’ve never done it that way before.’

How often do you hear words like these in your organization? If you’re a mature business, the chances are they’re common; if you’re a newer business, you might be lucky enough not to come across such untested assumptions, and my advice would be to ban them right now, before they even raise their expensive heads.

Both statements hide a cultural issue that you need to ferret out. They don’t just apply to operations, but it is here perhaps that they are most common. They are joined by any number of other red flag statements that are harbingers of a looming operational challenge, such as: ‘The system says I can’t do that’ or ‘That’s not our process or procedure’ or ‘There’s a problem with x y and z so I did a short term workaround.’

The first of those statements makes me want to break into a rant. If there is one thing guaranteed to kill your customer experience and turn off your customer, it’s any statement that begins with the words ‘The system says . . .’.

Businesses fall into a common trap: they make do with what they have, however ...

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