As I try to contain my excitement over the Olympics starting tonight, I find myself thinking about how much alike competitive sports and global business operations are becoming. I mean focus and dedication are needed to be the best in both. But as the appreciation for the extreme performance and efficiency need to win also grows, so too does the need by both for timely, quality information. Athletes today are monitored by all manner of biometric devices and filmed by high-speed cameras (6200 frames per second or more in some cases) to identify the adjustments in training and performance needed to win. As global competition heats up in the marketplace as well, executives must get better information to deal with an increasing number of challenges, including but not limited to:
- Demand volatility – Recession and related social unrest cause demand fluctuations despite the addition of roughly 3 billion middle-class consumers over the next 20 years
- Rising labor rates – including a 20% increase in the Chinese minimum wage
- Increasing continuity threats – the total natural disasters reported each year is up from 78 in 1970 to over 700 in 20102
- Commodity price risk –a 160% price increase in key commodities (energy, food, water, metals) over the last decade
Companies should embrace Agile Operations to respond to these types of challenges. Agile Operations focuses on balancing resource management, cost control, risk management, and response speed to maximize the ability to effectively deliver quality products and services in changing market conditions – a notion that delights both customers and shareholders. Here is our view on the core capabilities contributing to Agile Operations:
As you can see, there is a lot involved here. So, how do you tackle it? Like a world class athlete, of course. You set up tiered goals and you monitor progress closely. In business, that translates into executing against a phased, gated action plan. And by leveraging principles Lean, Six Sigma, and other frameworks, you can equip yourself with world-class tools that make this goal very achievable.