State of Readiness: A book review by Bob Morris

State of Readiness: Operational Excellence as Precursor to Becoming a High-Performance Organization
Joseph F. Paris, Jr.
Greenleaf Book Group Press (May 8, 2017)

How and why a business is a single system that has multiple dimensions of effort and initiative within the entire enterprise

In the first chapter, Joseph Paris makes an important distinction: “Operations refers to processes, whereas operational refers to deals with systems — even entire enterprises. Accordingly, there must be a difference between excellence in operations, or process excellence, and operational excellence. Simply put, excellence in operations is efficiency, doing things right, but operational excellence is effectiveness, doing the right things.”

This is probably what Peter Drucker has in mind in an article for HBR (1963) when he observes, “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

I agree with Paris that there are main requirements for the success of any program whose ultimate objective is to achieve organizational high-performance, and this is certainly true when it comes to the development ad deployment of such a program.

For example, vision, a requirement that “is not close but rather something that exists beyond the horizon. It might not be well defined. Usually, the more bold and transformational the vision is, the less detail there will be.

“You have to be able to paint a picture of this vision that is simple, elegant, and attractive. And the vision has to have a promise of being a much better place that what exists to overcome the complacency and fear of those who you need to have onboard and follow. As such, a vision should never be about getting away from where you are, but about getting to where you want to be – for your company, for your team, and for yourself.”

As I worked my way through the first few chapters, I was again reminded of this observation by Antoine de-Exupery: “The epitome of an elegant design is not when nothing else can be added but, rather, when nothing else can be taken away.”

Given all that has happened within and beyond the United States in recent years, I cannot recall a prior time when the world was more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than it seems to be today. Hence the importance of the information, insights, and counsel that Joseph Paris provides in abundance. This material can help leaders in almost any organization – whatever its size and nature may be – to create a state of readiness to respond effectively to the challenges that it is certain to face in months and years to come.

One key to sustainable success “can be found in planning for the scalability of an organization in its entirety and putting in place the proper support infrastructure.” More specifically, a state of readiness must be based on these principles:

o Learn from the past, build for the future.
o Communicate the vision, the align and commit to its achievement.
o Become set-up for success and not set-up for failure.
o Innovation is a requisite for long-term ability.
o Construct a program for rebuilding the capacity and capability.
o Prepare for the long haul and sustainability.

His concluding observations are spot-on: “What kills a company is the illusion – becoming a delusion – that all is well and they are untouchable. This sense of entitlement leads tom internal conflict, and the company rots from the inside. The arrogance in which they hold they hold [indeed defend and protect] their ignorance is what kills them.”

Operational excellence is not a desirable; it is an imperative.

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