by Ekaterina Curry
So many buzzwords are floating around in company and leaders’ vocabulary - operational excellence, strong execution, execution excellence and various similar varieties. These are different flavors of the same fundamental concept of continuous improvement and the completion of critical aspects of work effectively, efficiently, with high quality and within budget. These are the differentiators between top and mediocre companies. In the era of complexity and risk, it’s no small task to consistently achieve these outcomes. The growth mindset not only helps, it’s an accelerator and an enabler of these outcomes.
Execution excellence is an ongoing journey for companies, teams and individuals. It requires a vision of what being an excellent operator means in the industry and product space. It also requires clarity of goals and commitment across the company. It doesn’t demand perfection, but it calls for fast learning, humility to listen to those who know, and showing up with a Growth mindset every day.
Sometimes we talk about execution excellence and refer to big automation projects, large cost savings initiatives, and major innovation. These can certainly drive major value creation. But execution excellence shows up in the day-to-day, mundane work of individuals and teams.
I have found the following 10 components, which help us elevate operations, regardless of industry and product.
1. Define your goals and objectives: Clearly articulate your organizational goals and objectives. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your advancement towards those targets. This provides a clear focus and direction for your operational improvement efforts.
2. Standardize processes: Streamline and systematize your operational processes to eliminate waste, reduce errors, and improve efficiency. Record your procedures and ensure that everyone in the organization follows them consistently. Should such work ethics be established, variability would be reduced, and reliability would be increased.
3. Implement continuous improvement practices: Embrace a culture of constant development. Encourage employees to identify areas for improvement and provide them with the tools and resources to make changes. Adopt methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma to drive ongoing advancements in your operations.
4. Foster a collaborative work environment: Establish a setting that promotes collaboration, open communication, and knowledge sharing. Encourage cross-functional teams to work together to solve problems and optimize processes. Such conditions help to break down silos and promote a culture of operational excellence.
5. Invest in employee training and development: Provide your staff with the necessary coaching and growth prospects to (further) enhance their skills and knowledge. This enables them to perform their tasks more effectively and contribute to operational excellence. Offer workshops, seminars, and online courses related to operational best practices.
6. Leverage technology and automation: Identify areas where apparatus can streamline your performance. Implement tools and systems that automate repetitive tasks, improve data accuracy, and enhance decision-making. Through enabling your employees to devote their attention to pursuits that generate exceptional value, this practice results in heightened operational efficiency.
7. Monitor and analyze performance data: Collect and evaluate relevant information to assess your progress the defined KPIs. Use data analytics tools and dashboards to gain insights into your operations, identify bottlenecks, and uncover improvement opportunities. Utilize evidence-based decisions to drive operative excellence.
8. Encourage innovation and risk-taking: Foster a culture that encourages originality and rewards employees for taking calculated leaps. Create platforms for idea generation and experimentation. Embrace new technologies, methodologies, and approaches that can transform your operations and drive outstanding efficiency.
9. Engage and empower your employees: Involve your workers/co-workers in the decision-making process and give them autonomy to reach verdicts within their areas of responsibility. Empowered employees are more likely to take ownership of their work and contribute to executional excellence.
10. Seek customer feedback: Actively obtain your customers’ viewpoint to understand their needs and expectations. Use this feedback to improve your processes, products, and services. Customer-centricity is a key aspect of exemplary operations.
When we as leaders embody Execution excellence, more often than not, our teams will follow. When we also model the growth mindset by admitting errors, sharing learning and pivots, we accelerate our company and our teams’ ability to execute with excellence. Additionally, the cumulative effect of operating effectively, efficiently and with quality delights the customers and drives growth and value creation.
Ekaterina (“Katie”) Curry is a global business & operations leader with deep expertise in financial services and insurance. She currently leads Operations, Quality, Process improvement and Agency teams at Millennial Specialty insurance multifamily.
2x Fortune 500 leader, she has led colleagues on 5 continents through transformation and rapid growth.
Katie is a “people first” leader and is passionate about elevating people, teams and companies and driving operational excellence in all she does. She builds and scales best-in-class teams who drive profitable growth by deploying lean and agile tools, low code automation and building future capabilities.
Katie is originally from Bulgaria but has lived and worked in the U.S. for over 20 years. She holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Yale University.
She is a frequent industry speaker and author on operations, leadership, and working with Gen Z and Millennial colleagues.
When she is not working, you might find Katie hiking with her husband, kids and their dog Flynn.