What's management theme of 'the path'

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Organizations seek change either because of a crisis or because of a great leader. However, in today's world, none of these are sufficient for making a successful change. The game changing book, The Path deals with this third factor.

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What's management theme of 'the path'

  1. 1. This Document was provided to the Hub of Operational Excellence at http://www.The Path.com to initiate the co-creation of the Path. 1 The Theme Whats core of the book The Path: Leveraging Operations in a Complex and Chaotic World The genre of the Book-The Path is Business Management and the sub-genre isOrganizational Transformation. Organizational Transformation is about bringing change by an order of magnitude in the wayan organization works, which leads to substantial business benefits. The operational practice ofsignificantly improving performance of an organization on an ongoing basis is called OperationalExcellence. The focus of the Book is in bringing transformation through better Operations Management.And, it presents a saga of getting onto the journey of Operational Excellence. If you have a look at case-studded management books on Organizational Transformation,you would perhaps, notice a repeated pattern in the flow of the content. The books often start with a situation of an organization in dire straits (as if, almost about tocollapse). And then, there are anecdotal events that lead to significant improvements in theperformance of the organization. Subsequently, there is a theory that fits snugly into the sequenceof events. And finally, there is a prescription of a new management theory to transformorganizations. Books after books follow the above flow. And, so you have hundreds of books and so manydifferent approaches, each claiming its supremacy in dramatically improving organizationalperformance from the brink of oblivion.Why do these books start with the narration of failures? Because, Transformation involves significant Change, not only in the way things are donebut also in the behavior and culture of the organization; it involves people. Thus, making Changehappen and stick is not easy; and there is often a lot of resistance to change. A vast majority of thecommunity engaged in Organizational Transformation, therefore, finds and believes that most ofthe Organizations embrace Change only when they are under Crisis. The only other way (than being driven by Crisis), organizations have been found totransform is because of a good Leadership. And, there are several case studies on Leaders as changeagents. However, in todays connected world, the business environment has become increasinglycomplex. Due to which, any significant improvement initiative by an organization, despite havingbest leadership takes painfully long time, exhausts organizational resources, disrupts ongoingbusiness and costs huge money… and at the end, the resistance to change becomes even stronger. Perhaps, it makes sense to search out for the next level of concept in OrganizationalTransformation. It means an approach of transformation that is suitable in todays ever changingCopyrights 2013 © Shridhar Lolla. All Rights Reserved.This document was shared as a part of the preview process with the members of www.time2change.co.in on 08Jun2012. It is now revisedin retrospect on 03Apr2013 to let the prospective readers of The Path know the central theme of the book. Distribution or reproduction ofthis document in part or full in any form requires explicit reference to the title and the copyrights holder.
  2. 2. This Document was provided to the Hub of Operational Excellence at http://www.The Path.com to initiate the co-creation of the Path. 2and unpredictable dynamic world of business. Such an approach must give quick results that aresustainable, without taking too much of risk and without being too expensive. Within the realm of Operational Excellence, a significant part of the world thinks thatimproving Operations is about focusing on cost, while another not so small part of the world thinksthat it is about improving quality. Such thinking prevails even though most of the managers knowthat Quality, Cost, Speed and Flexibility must together improve, for an organization to becompetitive in todays business environment. Managers face enormous difficulties, when they actually get into implementing theirimprovement programs. When they try to improve one parameter, the other deteriorates, pullingdown (or neutralizing possible improvement in) overall performance of the organization. And, whenthe other parameter is improved another one deteriorates. Thus, although at any moment, one orother parameter seems to improve, at no moment the overall performance of the organizationseems to improve proportional to the effort. Thus, organizations keep hopping from oneimprovement programs to another, only to find their employees exhausted….scarred and scaredwith even modest improvement attempts of the management. Of course, it takes toll of the trustbetween people within the organization. Irrespective of historical and current performance, today, Managers are in a hurry toimprove performance levels of their organizations on an ongoing basis. The question of why toimprove performance does not exist. But trying to approach improvement initiatives the same wayagain and again, does not take them anywhere. The Theme The subject of the Book-The Path is about the search to improve performance oforganizations on an ongoing basis. It is about making Operational Excellence central to core strategyof organizations and building an Operations Centric business model. It is about how an organization(its people) builds its own path of Operational Excellence. The Path recognizes that organizations operate in complex environments and have limitedresources. Hence, trying to improve everything, everywhere and every time is not the bestapproach. Further, by recognizing the ever changing and unpredictable nature of the businessenvironment, it considers the time required to cause the change as a significant competitiveparameter for todays organizations. It presents how by using responsiveness as an anchor metric,an organization can move quickly from one level of performance to another higher level on acontinuous basis; without exhausting its costly resources and without taking too much risk. In doingso, not just responsiveness but every other metrics of the organization improves significantly.What is the Book not about? It is not about prescription of a tool or a technique. (At least it is not intended to be.) Rather, it acknowledges that the available tools and techniques of achieving significantimprovement in performance are, worth of what they are meant for. In this regard, the book isabout the journey of operational teams marching on the path of operational excellence; anddiscovering tools and techniques on the way.Where does the content of the Book come from? It was mentioned in the upload How Did it Start! that writing of the book was triggered bythe uneasiness created within a team meeting by the response of a senior executive. This specificnon-trivial incident might appear somewhere in the content of the Book. Several different incidentsCopyrights 2013 © Shridhar Lolla. All Rights Reserved.This document was shared as a part of the preview process with the members of www.time2change.co.in on 08Jun2012. It is now revisedin retrospect on 03Apr2013 to let the prospective readers of The Path know the central theme of the book. Distribution or reproduction ofthis document in part or full in any form requires explicit reference to the title and the copyrights holder.
  3. 3. This Document was provided to the Hub of Operational Excellence at http://www.The Path.com to initiate the co-creation of the Path. 3mentioned in the Book, actually took place repeatedly in different organizations during last twodecades. Across organizations, only specifics of the incidents changed but their nature remainedsame. These incidents took place in Steel Plants, Capital Goods factories, Software DevelopmentCenters, BPO centers, Heavy Engineering Factories, Construction Sites, Renewable Energy Projects,Distribution Centers, Service Centers, R&D Centers, Printing Shop, Electronics Development Officeand Pharmaceutical Plants. It just happened that I was involved in a large initiative in the Pharma Industry, when theBook was being written. During the initiative, I got the opportunity to observe and work on thesegeneric incidences for over 1500 days. And, it made sense to build the content of the Book withinthe setting of a Pharma Company. In the hindsight, I feel that the background of the PharmaIndustry (Operations in Formulation) suits the nature of the book, since the involved operationalsteps are just a few, although the challenges of ever improving Operations are as daunting as in anyother industry. Thus, it helps in keeping the content maintain a balanced presentation onorganizational transformation that is applicable to most of the industries.So, is the book about practices in large and established organizations? Yes, but the substrata of the Book do not just come from the best practices of establishedorganizations. Actually, its content is deeply influenced by my working with Start-ups (newbusinesses) for over a decade.Why do I bring startups here? A Startup business is inherently resource constrained and is borne in highly risky anddangerously unpredictable environments. And, we also know that for established organizations thebusiness environment has become ever more difficult and unpredictable. So, while established organizations are forced to sustain themselves in an ever changingand unpredictable environment, Startups choose to operate in such environments. A Startupbusiness happens to be the place, where one could see organizational problems at a veryfundamental level and observe the way entrepreneurs use their native ingenuity to solve them.Thus, there is a good possibility for large organizations to pick a few rules of the game from Startuporganizations. For example, entrepreneur driven organizations tend to be very responsive and agile bynature. And, we said that established organizations need to be more responsive in dealing withtodays competition. It means that established organizations trying to be competitive in the currentbusiness environment could learn a few aspects of responsiveness from Startups. Since, Operations is synonymous to Actions, across the Book you would find continuousimprovements driven by the behavior of learning by doing, where hypotheses drive actions,actions drive results and results precede policies … which we believe is the behavior needed intodays environment… We find that the specific behavior of entrepreneurs to be Focused and Responsive inbuilding a sustainable business becomes an important reference for the behavior for establishedorganizations in the current business environment. In essence, the content of the book is also aboutmaking established organizations nimble like start-ups. In reality, every direction to improvements mentioned in the Book was first tested instartup environment (living Laboratory) before it was applied in larger organizations.What does it mean for the realm of Operational Excellence?Copyrights 2013 © Shridhar Lolla. All Rights Reserved.This document was shared as a part of the preview process with the members of www.time2change.co.in on 08Jun2012. It is now revisedin retrospect on 03Apr2013 to let the prospective readers of The Path know the central theme of the book. Distribution or reproduction ofthis document in part or full in any form requires explicit reference to the title and the copyrights holder.
  4. 4. This Document was provided to the Hub of Operational Excellence at http://www.The Path.com to initiate the co-creation of the Path. 4 Operational excellence is not about achieving certain results with certain tools ortechniques. It is about integrating strategy and processes with people and culture of theorganization. It is about making the behavioral change in people, teams and organization, so thatimprovements are sustainable (ongoing). When I was discussing about the Path with one of the co-creators, Vaibhav (now responsiblefor operations of two key facilities of a conglomerate), he extended the perspective, "It may bebeyond being small or large organization. On an absolute basis, smaller organizations may have lessresource and capabilities compared to larger organizations. But on a relative basis, both types oforganizations always have similar levels of resource and capability challenges compared to demandposed on them. The fundamental situations do not change." Then, he said, "Fundamental principles of business remain the same, the tools andmethodologies change with organizations, in time and space. And therefore, organizations mustbuild the capability of improving implementation of these principles better, on an ongoing basis. Itis about how your capability compares with the demand posed on your organization. And what youdo about it."So is it a case study book with best practices? It is not about best practices. It is about concepts and behaviors, which make anorganization to run sustainable improvement programs. It is about how an organization by itselfcould figure out its own ever improving practices.So, is it a typical self study and descriptive management book? Operations is about what we do on day-to-day and hour-to-hour basis, when we chase awork order, process order or sales order or a project task. Whatever may be the amount of scientificlogic we bring into the Operational Systems, on day to day basis intuitions and emotions overwhelmus. The book is therefore, written in a semi novel format where different professional characterswork together in an operational environment that challenges them continuously to ever improvetheir organization. It is not an out-right business novel because at the end, business results matterand, processes and behaviors must be aligned to deliver these results. The book is essentially for practitioners of operations; hence it is light on semantics andmanagement jargon; and uses native operational language.Here are the pointers for sharing your views: 1. What prevents a majority of organizations from sustaining improvement initiatives? 2. What are the emerging concepts of Operational Excellence?__________________________________________________________________________________________Note: By improvement, we would mean Significant Improvement.Date: First Posting 8th Jun 2012Current Posting: 03 Apr 2013Copyrights 2013 © Shridhar Lolla. All Rights Reserved.This document was shared as a part of the preview process with the members of www.time2change.co.in on 08Jun2012. It is now revisedin retrospect on 03Apr2013 to let the prospective readers of The Path know the central theme of the book. Distribution or reproduction ofthis document in part or full in any form requires explicit reference to the title and the copyrights holder.

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