Written by Abel Gomez, Opex Academy
Published November 4, 2014
Nowadays, a large number of companies are establishing principles of excellence as the path for their companies. Every day companies from various types of industry call me and ask to join all those who have taken the path of enterprise excellence based on principles. Although many have understood that such principles are the basis of competitive organizations, many still battle as to how to interpret them on a daily basis. It is not that simple for them to define what the application of the principles looks like on the floor – at the gemba – where things happen every day.
Although little-by-little companies understand the importance of involving and committing every member of the organization to create the golden dream of sustainable continuous improvement, there are still many concepts that are hard to understand and translate in simple and accessible terms – even among CEOs to whom the new era of excellence based on principles is not a common theme. In fact, many mistake the path to excellence for tools and systems that are totally misaligned from the true goal. So often, this misalignment creates situations that go against principles – particularly seeking perfection.
It is exactly this principle, Seek Perfection, that is one of the most complex to define. I believe this is because the behavior and actions derived from this concept are manifest in such a natural and totally genuine way. People develop a sense of hunger and urgency to act upon identifying and eliminating waste and it spreads to all those who visit their workplaces. It is not common to find companies whose employees are constantly seeking new ways and better ways to do their job thinking, continuously improving as if it were part of their DNA.
However, as complicated as it may seem, generating the behaviors behind the principle of seeking for perfection is really much simpler. There are systems that can make organizations experience incredible changes as long as they are designed and integrated with the appropriate tools. One of the most common denominators of employees is the fact that they work out of necessity. Generally speaking, employees only view work as a medium – a means to meet their individual needs. Outside of work, each individual seeks progress and looks for ways to better his or her income and reduce monthly expenses such as water, electric, gas bills, etc. Employees do this by creating their own systems and tools. So, why not, as a company, take advantage and use this level of intelligence and ability where people identify waste and eliminate it? As companies, we can and must create environments with systems that invite, encourage and empower them to use these abilities that they already inherently have.
I am proud to say that I advise a group of companies in Mexico, with Mexican capital, on their path to excellence. We have, as a group, created a unique and original system in which approximately 1,300 employees from the organization generate at least 100 possible areas of opportunity in a natural way, where the main actors are the associates. Everyday you may enter a meeting at the beginning and end of their shifts and observe how naturally and genuinely they identify and eliminate waste. The passion this group of over 1,000 operatives shows is contagious. Their behavior is naturally integrated in the principle of Seek Perfection. To stop this stampede of ideas and actions would practically be suicide – an impossible mission.
It is all a matter of knowing our people and designing systems that generate the ideal behavior. Only then can we achieve true enterprise excellence.
M.A. Abel Gómez Medina, Founder of Opex Academy
Abel Gómez is an industrial engineer with a masters in business administration specializing in marketing and sales. He is currently the senior director for the ALFRA-OPEX ACADEMY Partnership. He is certified as a business coach for high-ranking executives and a Shingo Institute Certified Facilitator. With over 20 years’ experience in the industry he has helped many companies achieve enterprise excellence.