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Business & the brain in pursuit of operational excellence
Business & the brain in pursuit of operational excellence
Business & the brain in pursuit of operational excellence
Business & the brain in pursuit of operational excellence
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Business & the brain in pursuit of operational excellence


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  • 1. BUSINESS & THE BRAIN:In Pursuit ofOperational ExcellenceFollowing an organisational review and a meeting with the board, Gerhard sat downwith his senior leadership team and said, “We need to reduce our costs by 10%, makePROCESSES more efficient, meet the demands of our clients more effectively andimprove the productivity of our people. Team, what we need is an operational excellenceproject implemented. Times are turbulent and we need to make sure that we have thesystems, processes, structure and people to continue to not just succeed, but thrive.”Like Gerhard and his team,implementing businessimprovement, operationalexcellence or processimprovement initiatives are afamiliar undertaking for seniorleaders and synonymous withthe journey towards buildingefficient and sustainablebusinesses. However, the secretto creating sustained operationalexcellence has alluded even themost rigorous of operationalimprovement plans. This isbecause we fail to effectivelyengage people on the path tochange and harness the mindsetsand behaviours of individualsacross the organisation. Themost powerful tool that leadershave available to them toachieve operational excellenceis their people. Leaders who canharness the power of the brain ‘The most powerful tool thatand understand that maximising leaders have available tohuman capital will determine itsultimate success above all others them to achieve operationalwill achieve true transformational excellence is their people.’operational excellence.© Sentis Pty Ltd 2012. This document remains the intellectual property of Sentis Pty Ltd andis protected by copyright and registered trademarks. No material from this Guide is to bereproduced or used in any format without express written permission.
  • 2. BUSINESS & THE BRAIN: IN PURSUIT OF OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE P.2The 5As of Operational Excellence provides leaders At a basic brain level, people want to feel connected to awith the fundamental elements required for successful higher meaning and purpose; they want to know wherebusiness improvement. The 5As are Alignment, they are going and why. When they do, the research tellsAuthenticity, Autonomy, Agility and Awareness. us they perform better. For example, in 2011, eminentThe critical questions to reflect on are: “How is your organisational behaviour experts, Teresa Amabile andbusiness performing against the 5As of Operational Steven Kramer, from the Harvard School of BusinessExcellence? Are you focusing on the right things to reported that, based on 30 years of research, theachieve your improvement targets?” secret to fostering amazing performance is empowering talented people to progress and succeed at work that is meaningful. Leaders who can create alignment between work tasks and organisational vision to create meaning AUTH NT EN and purpose for their employees will have a team NME T destined to perform at their highest potential. IG IC AL ITY Authenticity ENESS AUTON Are communications authentic across all levels of your organisation where everyone is expected to AR OM say what they mean? AW Nothing fosters greater trust in leaders than when they Y are open, honest and genuine in their communications, A GILIT Y demonstrate an enduring commitment to their purpose, live their values consistently and establish strong and positive relationships with their team. For authenticity to permeate the organisation, it has to start with this level ofAlignment authentic communication across all levels of leadership. In fact, our brains are hardwired to detect inauthentic behaviour in others and it has a strong preference forAre your people united towards a common vision honesty; so when we fail to be authentic, it is detrimentaland do they know what success looks like? to organisational engagement and performance in theMost mature organisations have a guiding vision, long run. When an organisation operates with a high leveltargets that need to be achieved along the way, and of authenticity, and therefore trust, individuals are moreclearly articulated indicators of success. However, likely to embrace change, collaborate, choose to weatherwhat organisations typically miss is the effective (that adversity and honestly confront challenges together. Hasis – a clear, engaging and inspirational message) and your organisation got the level of authenticity required toconsistent communication of this vision as well as a achieve operational excellence?methodology to ensure individuals know how things .are progressing along the way. Across the organisation,people may be heard to ask: “Where are we?” and “Arewe there yet?”Creating alignment towards a vision and understanding Autonomywhat success looks like is critical to empowering Is your structure and leadership model supportive ofindividuals to ensure their day-to-day decisions align with autonomy and innovative thinking?the vision. Additionally, a sense of achievement, which Recent advances in neuroscience tell us that the degreeis essential to positivity, sustained engagement and of control, or otherwise, that an individual feels overcreating immunity against setbacks, is fostered. Think of their environment is a significant factor in their abilitythe infamous interaction between John F Kennedy and to function to their highest potential. Organisationsthe janitor during a visit to NASA, when John asked what that establish a structure and leadership philosophythe janitor did. The janitor replied: “I help men get to support autonomy such as minimising hierarchy,into space.” allowing people to organise their own work day and collaborate rather than be micro-managed, will create© Sentis Pty Ltd 2012
  • 3. BUSINESS & THE BRAIN: IN PURSUIT OF OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE P.3empowered teams. Individuals who feel empoweredto make their own decisions, problem solve creativelyand are given plenty of latitude to make choices and Awarenessmistakes are less stressed and higher performing than Do your people understand what drives them, theirthose who are not given the same freedom. Leaders who potential and their capacity to use their brain?understand this dynamic are most effective in engaging One of the most powerful jobs a leader has is to helpteam members’ best talents and consistently breed their team and organisation realise and attain theirefficient and productive teams – ultimately fostering a highest potential. The latest advances in the psychologyculture of excellence. of excellence tells us that individuals who have a high . degree of self-awareness are more able to self-monitor, independently adjust their behaviour when required,Agility and recognise and overcome obstacles to ultimately fulfil their own potential. We have traditionally relied upon scheduled performance reviews and out-dated paperwork to try and encourage this form of self-How well does your organisation harness and awareness in both leaders and their team members. Itrespond to change and setbacks? hasn’t worked and the scepticism has set in. We need toA hallmark of operational excellence is the capacity of an redefine our approach to the fostering of self-awareness.organisation to adapt rapidly to changes in the businessenvironment in productive and cost effective ways. Whilst Creating opportunities for increased self-awareness,this is the traditional view of agility, many businesses fail through spontaneous reflection opportunities, qualitythe agility test. Why? Because the essence of agility “brain-based” assessment tools, ownership over discreetactually lies within an individual’s capacity to respond to projects, stretch assignments and a knowledgebase ofchanges – and this is often overlooked. For organisations how the brain functions in the workplace is the key toto be agile, they need to develop capabilities around fostering optimal human potential and subsequently,resilience, innovation and effective risk-taking behaviour. operational excellence.Additionally, they need to overcome unhelpful thinkingpatterns and fear frames in their people to develop amindset in their team that can embrace change. So, is your business on track to outperform all others? Are you positioned to achieve sustainedToo often, we hear that change is daunting, that people and transformational business improvement throughdon’t like change and that change is difficult. We Alignment, Authenticity, Autonomy, Agility andcould liken this with the thinking patterns of the 1970’s Awareness? Founded upon the neuroscience andwhere people considered zero harm in the workplace psychology of human behaviour, the 5As providesas impossible, or safety as a cost to a business. Over leaders with the pathway to maximising humantime, such mindsets have changed and we have seen capital and ultimately, the foundation of achievingsignificant improvements over time in workplace safety. operational excellence.Whilst change can be frightening, it is also possible,desirable and is a primary driver of reaching excellence.We call this the paradox of change. It is the organisationsthat help their people reframe their attitude to changethat will flourish with innovation and productivity gains.Think of the late Steve Jobs. This was a man who definedthe need to remain agile in the face of adversity and tosee the opportunity in what others would see as failure.Steve is not alone in this mind set. How many of today’s(and yesterday’s) world leaders can you reflect upon thatdefined the need to see failure as the path to success,regardless of the prevailing attitudes around them andbarriers to change they faced?© Sentis Pty Ltd 2012
  • 4. is an award winning global business dedicated to creating sustainable organisationalchange. We solve our clients’ most critical business challenges and believe that the brain is our mostimportant change and performance tool. With this fundamental idea, Sentis partners with organisationsto enhance safety, wellbeing, leadership and organisational performance. Apollo, Sentis’ Leadership andOrganisational Excellence division, partners with clients to apply neuroscience and psychology to createsustainable change and enhance the performance of leaders, teams and organisations. We do this throughdiagnosis and assessment, training programs, and customised solutions with a focus on services to applyand embed learnings back into the workplace.Kellie LewisWith over 15 years’ experience working with individuals and organisations, Kellie applies her knowledgeof neuroscience, psychology and business to helping leaders achieve their individual and organisationalchange goals and high performance targets. Specifically, Kellie is passionate about leadership developmentand creating resilient individuals and organisations. Following a career as a successful sportswoman, herroles have included working as a clinician and divisional manager with a national award winning NFP inthe child and adolescent department, working extensively with elite sports and businesses to drive highperformance. This has encompassed running her own consultancy, a number of years at the AustralianInstitute of Sport, and working as the high performance psychologist with the West Coast Eagles FootballClub. Kellie is now a member of the executive leadership team at Sentis and has been part of the teamresponsible for growing a highly successful and award winning Australian owned global business andhelping clients all over the world achieve their goals.Chandra ClementsCEO of Sentis, Chandra has been awarded winner of Businesswoman of the Year for the Telstra Businessand Finalist in the AIM Awards. She has successfully lead the global growth and expansion of Sentisto achieve over a 200% increase in revenue and improved profitability whilst maintaining an engaged,productive and innovative global team. With a diverse industry background spanning education, retail,mining, construction and distribution, Chandra applies psychological concepts to global business issues.Her success has relied on her ability to connect with ‘untapped’ human potential in organisations such asRio Tinto, Fluor, OPSM, and Campbell Brothers. In 2009, she led a business of 380 employees to achievea Lost Time Injury rate of zero, down from 19 two years earlier. Chandra has designed and implementedcustomised business solutions such as a worldwide executive profiling diagnostic, leadership enhancementprograms, as well as a program aimed at improving holistic business performance in the resources sector.