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In the world of business, it’s often said that a problem well stated is half-solved. But how do we peel back the layers of day-to-day operations to uncover the real challenges—the kind that thwarts growth, innovation, and efficiency? The answer lies in scrutinising our operating models.

Identifying the Challenge

A business problem isn’t just a sales slump or a budget overrun; it’s a signal, a symptom of a deeper issue in how a company creates, delivers, and captures value. To identify these challenges, one must adopt a holistic perspective.

1. Start with the Symptoms

Surface-level issues like declining revenue or low employee morale are starting points. Trace these symptoms back to operational processes—is it a case of outdated technology, inefficient workflows, or a misalignment of resources?

2. Listen to the Fringe Voices

Often, the most valuable insights come from the least expected places. The frontline employees, customer service reps, and even the customers themselves can provide critical insights into where your operating model may be falling short.

3. Data Doesn’t Lie

Leverage data analytics to get a quantitative view of your operations. Look for trends, patterns, and outliers. A drop in productivity in a certain department could indicate a process issue that needs addressing.

Analysing the Root Cause

Once you’ve pinpointed the symptoms and listened to the stakeholders, it’s time to dig deeper.

4. The Five Whys Technique

Ask ‘why’ iteratively to every answer you receive about an issue. This technique often leads to surprising revelations about the underlying cause.

5. Process Mapping

Lay out the end-to-end process of your key operations. This visualisation often highlights inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or redundancies that are ripe for overhaul.

Solutions Through Innovation

Now, with a clear picture of the operating model challenges, how do we solve them?

6. Embrace Digital Transformation

It’s not just about technology; it’s about a mindset. Adopt new digital tools to streamline processes, but also foster a culture that’s open to change and innovation.

7. Agile Methodology

Incorporate agile principles into your operations. Small, cross-functional teams can address specific problems quickly and efficiently, iterating as they go.

8. Customer-Centric Redesign

Sometimes the problem is that operations are too inward-looking. Redesign processes with the customer experience at the forefront.

The Road Ahead

Finding and addressing real business problems within your operating model isn’t a one-off task; it’s an ongoing commitment to excellence and agility. Remember, the ultimate goal isn’t just to solve problems—it’s to transform challenges into opportunities for growth.

What operational challenges are you facing, and how can we turn these into opportunities for innovation?

For tailored advice on transforming your operating model challenges into growth opportunities, reach out to me. Let’s work together to find and solve the real business problems that are holding you back.

Contact me today Ian Burton Decisive Leadership