In search of opportunities

Observation #52

carpedia-observation-52Opportunities exist everywhere in organizations, because businesses are constantly changing in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We spend a lot of time observing organizations of all shapes and sizes, and it is truly fascinating to see how they operate. Hospitals, wineries, hotels, transportation firms, production plants: they are all remarkably complex. So while opportunities may exist, they are often not obvious. Unfortunately, competitive reality demands that companies never stop improving their performance and, in turn, that managers never stop looking for opportunity. But where and how do you look for these opportunities?

To answer the “where” part of this question, we ask ourselves four questions:

  1. Are there any gaps between what your product or service provides and what customers (or users) actually want?
  2. Can the process be made faster, more reliable or with less cost, without impacting quality?
  3. Are the management-system tools effective and used properly by managers?
  4. What do managers actually do with their time and is it what the organization needs?

The “how” part can be a little trickier. When you spend as much time as we do looking for improvement opportunities, you start to create mental checklists of both what you should be looking for and where you’re likely to find them.