We are familiar with the four stages of developing a new competency: unconsciously unaware; consciously unaware; consciously aware; and unconsciously aware. I’m living through this theory right now with my older son who recently got his learner driver’s licence – the L Plates. After about five hours into coaching him, I’ve gained two valuable insights:
1) The need to give a lot more space and time when I next see a Learner driver on the road 😊
2) The fickleness of a process during the ‘consciously aware’ state
Over the last four weeks, I’ve seen how little things such as crossing over the hands to do a U-turn is becoming more fluid. However, his hands don’t do it right when he tries to focus specifically on the manoeuvre.
Operational Excellence is a framework with multiple processes to improve overall productivty, performance and profitability, year-on-year. When implemtned fully, they connect with each other with high level precision like the multiple cogs of a world-class Swiss watch, delivering high level performance seemlessly and frictionlessly. Until you get to that point, it may feel a bit cluncky, like learning to drive, you will be driving a process at time consciously, dilligently, and cautiously. That’s ok. Go with the flow. Be aware of the overall maturity level.
All of Operational Excellence processes can be simplified into two main categories, managing day-to-day and improving year-on-year. I’ve been asked what is the right percentage of time spent in each area, by world-class companies. The answer is not how much time you spend in each camp, it is the how fluidly you move in and out from day-to-day and year-on-year. It will be like wax-on, wax-off (from the movie Karate Kid): breathing in, breatihng out: and driving in ‘unconsciouly aware’ state.
In its most mature state, it is one motion – an infinite loop between day-to-day and year-on-year processes.
In the middle of this infinite loop is a point, that I’d like to call as the ‘Ephemeralisation Point’, based on the term ‘Ephemeralization’ coined by R. Buckminster Fuller – an American architect, systems theorist, author, inventor and futurist who lived from 1895 to 1983. Fuller describes Ephemeralization as the ability to ‘do more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing’. Powerful!
I think when you reach ultimate world-class Operational Excellence level, you stay close to the Ephemeralisation Point, in a compelte Zen like state as you have all the processes runinning efficiently and effectively – like a Swiss watch. The Operational Excellence flywheel would have gained enough momentum that it will continue to propel on its own, continuing to improve productivity, performance, and profitability year-on-year.
So, focus on the process, not the result. The process will deliver results.