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hen we observe some of the ultra-successful organizations across all sectors of the economy, and across all geographical areas of the world, and even throughout history, we can perhaps all agree that the underlying culture of the organization played a major role in its success. It’s the glue and the superstructure that translated visions into missions, missions into objectives, and objectives into processes that called people to action, and ensured that the actions produced the success of the organization. If we were to look for a label for what happened—the term Operational Excellence could perhaps summarize what happened. This article offers thoughts on how to develop, infuse, mobilize, and institutionalize a culture of operational excellence using some widely available tools, concepts and systems in the world of Quality Systems and Management.

  1. Operational Excellence manifests itself through integrated performance across revenue, cost, and risk. It focuses on meeting customer expectation through the continuous improvement of the operational processes and the culture of the organization.
    • It takes commitment from C-Suite to the Front lines
    • Factors contributing to Operational Excellence:
      1. Revenue generation
      2. Cost control
      3. Risk management –
        • Fiscal
        • Safety
        • Quality
      4. Processes
      5. Culture
  2. Enabling Operational Excellence requires commitment to a common standard across multiple disciplines. Quality Management Systems based on widely known standards such as ISO 9001 provide the basis and frame-work for deploying this commitment. The steps required for this deployment include:
    • Education on standards
    • Tools to facilitate performance to standards
    • Tools to enable documentation of performance
    • Tools to help improve processes:
      1. Identifying areas requiring improvement
      2. Use of Risk Based Process Improvement Program (RBPIP)
      3. Report on performance of various areas.
  3. A culture of Operational Excellence is only attainable when there is:
    • Agreement on the standards
    • Agreement on the metrics
    • Agreement on the reporting
    • Comprehensive understanding of each employee’s role in not just meeting, but exceeding those standards.
  4. Organizations approach Operational Excellence in many different ways, but they all have a few commonalities:
    • Commitment and support from management
    • Consistent review of metrics versus objectives
    • Accountability for meeting expectations
    • Utilizing consistent tools across disciplines for gathering data
  5. Criteria for tools enabling Operational Excellence:
    • In today’s world of powerful IT based systems, it has become so much easier to infuse a culture of Operational Excellence. The concept was ably illustrated in the seminal book “Business @ the Speed of Thought (1999)” written by Bill Gates about the “Digital Nervous System (DNS)”. Essentially, the principle is that a good computer-based system provides capabilities akin to a Central Nervous System (CNS) to organizations. Just as the CNS provides a central role in modifying/ improving behavior in a human being, the DNS can help improve the culture of Operational Excellence. The names have changed from CNS to DNS.
    • People familiar with ISO 9001 will likely agree that the standard is pervasive across all functions of the organization as a top-level system of requirements. This fact can be exploited to deploy whatever culture the leadership wishes to. Unfortunately, if it is not done in a conscious manner, then random cultures in different functions can grow that can cause confusion and sub-optimal results regarding Operational Excellence. A Good DNS system based on the work-flows of ISO 9001 can help realize the goal of inculcating a culture of Operational Excellence.
    • The key therefore, is to implement software tools that can act as the DNS of the organization. It then becomes simply the job of Top Management to conceptualize and communicate the vision, mission, goals, objectives that need to permeate throughout the organization. Many companies over time acculmulate a number of different “point solutions” that become their “DNS”. One of the keys to implementing and maintaining a Culture of Operational Excellence is to integrate the disparate systems into a single, comprehensive system for managing the requirements of an ISO based management system. The QISS QMS tool can then be used by top management just as the brain uses the CNS in a human body.
    • QISS provides the DNS to connect the CEO to each employee of the organization. The network of objectives and processes touches all employees to the extent necessary by ensuring that “every man does his duty” (Lord Nelson at Trafalgar). Subsequently collecting data regarding operation of the processes, detecting points in the organizational processes that need to be improved, and providing the improvement protocols that are simple and uniform across the organization.

For more information on how QISS can help enable your Culture of Operational Excellence,  please contact us at or visit our webisite:

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