From Boardroom Confession to Shop Floor Resolution 

Welcome back to Boardroom Confession Fridays. Each week, we’re unpacking the biggest financial and operational performance issues being discussed behind closed doors and sharing tips for bringing those conversations to the shop floor and engaging front-line employees in the solution. Follow along and get inspired to turn talk into action and action into results.  

Confession 4: Too much time is spent fighting fires instead of permanently resolving problems. 

Operations leaders often find themselves addressing the same issues time and time again. For example, missing the plan, not complying with standards, excessive waste, misaligned communication, changing priorities, not complying with processes, dissatisfied clients, increasing costs, and, most frequently, a lack of action. Organizations that are serious about improving performance often become adept at managing KPIs and keeping the pulse of important metrics that show how actual performance compares to plan. They know when performance is off track. Some even learn to immediately course correct or implement countermeasures when issues arise, empowering people at all levels to get involved and help prevent misses. 

Successfully responding to a problem is good. Avoiding it all together is even better.

In many ways, these types of organizations have mastered the fundamentals of a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle that is central to precision of execution and operational excellence. Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon for organizations to find themselves responding to the same or similar situations the very next week, day, or shift. 

Move from stopwatch to smartwatch. 

To truly optimize performance, the act step in the cycle needs to go beyond taking action to course correct and include taking a closer look at why the recurring issues are happening in the first place. It’s about more than monitoring and reacting to performance in the moment, but also doing the analysis to proactively improve performance potential for the future. 

This requires process discipline and some advanced problem-solving capabilities and tools such as root cause analysis and action planning. For these efforts to be successful, companies must have fully engaged employees at all levels of the organization, specifically the front lines, who are encouraged and empowered to share their insight into the issues. 

A good management system and robust daily management processes that define how root causes are analyzed and then systematically addressed by the team will help accelerate resolutions. While all of this can be done manually, the right software solution can automate and further streamline the steps while keeping the team connected and on the same page working toward the same goals. 

Aim for proactive instead of reactive in every area.

While candid boardroom conversations are critical to helping companies identify their performance challenges, the talk must lead to real change at all levels of the organization. Indeed, the more proactive an organization can be about putting solutions in place to address recurring issues, the better positioned it will be to realize true operational excellence and continuous improvement. While people, process, and technology are keys to this approach, machines and how they are maintained matter, too. Don’t miss next week’s confession where we look at common problems with maintenance and how they can undermine even the best laid OpEx plans.


In case you missed our previous articles from the Boardroom Confession series, explore our discussions on: