I am way behind in my blog reading. When reading some of my backlog, I found this great post by Brad Power over at Harvard Business Review.
Why was it great? Brad talked about how meeting the customer expectations and operational excellence are not opposites. Business should be doing BOTH and the ones that do have great success.
What is more important to company success, a strong external focus on customer experiences or an internal focus on effective and efficient operations?
Of course, it’s a false dichotomy — you need both. I described in an earlier post how Tesco worked for years to improve its supply chain capabilities, then leveraged this value by using deeper customer knowledge to enrich customer experiences.
Brad uses two great examples. One is L.L. Bean that provides goods to consumers. The other is ThedaCare which provides medical services to people. He shows how meeting customer expectations and having operational excellence can work in either industry.
Many hospitals began pursuing the “triple aim”: better patient experiences, consistent quality, and lower costs. Hospitals such as Virginia Mason and ThedaCare adopted process improvement systems from manufacturing (“Lean” and the “Toyota Production System”) to deliver increased consistency, reliability, and quality. While skeptics are right when they say, “Patients are not cars,” the reality is that medical care is, in fact, delivered through extraordinarily complex organizations, with thousands of interacting processes, much like a factory.
Most in the lean community are aware of the great work ThedaCare and Virginia Mason have been doing. It is great to see it highlighted on the HBR Blog.
Something that the lean community has stressed for a very long time is focus on delivering value for the customer first and then determine how to deliver that value as efficiently as possible and with no waste.
There is so much written about lean that is wrong or misunderstood. It is great to see a post discussing how companies can use lean properly to help them compete and win.