by Max Krug, Future State Engineering

Based on our experience, when companies start working on improving their business, the process does not go very far. What they are lacking is a fundamental system and a formal approach where current paradigms are challenged. To challenge current paradigms, this requires making a paradigm shift or changing organizational mindset.

First, we need to understand how organizational mindset is defined which is as a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines the organization’s behavior, outlook, and mental attitude that impacts the outcome of the organization’s endeavors. Next, we need to establish the mindset for change which encompasses four areas:

  • Conscious awareness,
  • Reactive to proactive attitude,
  • Shift in perspective, and
  • Change in paradigm.

Photo for operational excellenceOnce this is understood, you then need to challenge the current organizational mindset. As you continue to establish the mindset for change, drill down into the four areas and apply them throughout the organization. For example, for conscious awareness, become aware of issues that you are dealing with along with the issues that you are creating for others in the organization. For reactive to proactive attitude, stop dealing with the symptoms and work on root cause. Identifying root causes entails a comprehensive understanding of how the company currently operates, such as determining how well employees understand their work process, their functions, and their internal customers as well as effectively measuring employee performance.

With an understanding of the root causes of the organization’s issues, we move towards the desirable outcomes that define what a high-performing company will look like. The foundation of every high-performing company is having a ‘stable system’ which means that the time to complete all the processes, from start to finish, is highly predictable. Highly predictable means the system must be free of special causes of variation which come in two forms:

  1. Operational challenges – these causes can be easily addressed by the application of Lean and Six Sigma techniques, and
  2. Behavioral challenges – these causes are much harder to address as it requires behavioral changes from the people within the organization.

To get breakthrough improvement you need to identify: what to change, what to change to, and how to cause the change. Everything that we’ve talked about above focuses on the ‘what to change’ aspect which is the ‘managerial know-how’. This aspect is the focusing mechanism for leadership and management – knowing what needs to change to achieve breakthrough performance and what not to change that will consume management attention but not achieve results or bring benefit.

Side Note: Check NWIRC event listings for an upcoming free, 4-part Operational Excellence Webinar Series featuring Max Krug, as well as in-person workshops throughout the region at