Thank you for staying with me through this book. I hope you feel that I kept my promise: to show operational leadership as a management discipline in its own right and the most fascinating and rewarding challenge in business management. This task is where we can do much more than think and talk intelligently. We can test our ability to bring our ideas into reality.
As operational leaders we have accepted responsibility of caring for a wonderful creature, gifted to achieve top-league performance in surfing the waves of opportunity.
It is our job as operational leaders to steer this great being on the giant waves we surf - to build an ideal surfboard (our operational plan) and then guide it to follow an ideal line on our wave.
To do so, we focus on the vital few things: critical success factors and their necessary conditions, in planning as well as in execution.
This book is meant as a guide for surfing at world-class level. Regardless of the level at which you surf the big waves of opportunity right now – I hope you find the knowledge contained in this book to be useful for becoming or coaching others to become master surfers.
All kinds of businesses require operational leadership
What we discussed in this book applies to any kind of business enterprise, in any industry and in any of their business units, of any size – from small start-up to global businesses.
If for example you lead a sales organization you lead the sales system, and lead it to spin its PEC cycle. If you lead a sales channel, you lead that channel’s business system. If you lead a company’s key account sales you lead an operational sales plan for each account (each will require different critical success factors).
If you lead a service organization you might need an operational plan at the top level and one for each service product lines.
Whichever it is, it does not matter: you always require operational leadership to lead your business to perform at operational excellence.
How to start
The time to start is now.
Diagnose the competence of your business in PEC (Plan-Execute-Check) cycles and in the culture of operational excellence – best with the involvement of your entire operational team. (Chapter 15, Right leadership).
Lead by example. Start with one single goal and operational plan: for your business or unit, at the top. Create your own goal chart and arrange an operational planning workshop for your business. Then, lead quick and deep reviews for at least 6 months, driven by you key events schedule.
When your operational team is comfortable with the PEC cycle, go one level lower. Assign operational goals to next level units and lead operational planning workshops with the unit managers. Then, help them to get going with their PEC cycles.
Surfing big waves is – as we said in our preface – high-performance sports.
It’s a tough challenge and hard work. For you as a professional, however, each successfully completed PEC cycle is another successful surf on a monster wave.
You are stepping into liquid. You are stepping off solid ground into an element that is always changing and moving and it’s surrounding you. And it feels good.
Don’t forget to enjoy it along the way– and then, go for the next one.
As I said at the beginning: you will become addicted to this sport!