“Some People Say”… Culture’s Link to Optimization and Profit by Kay Sever

Kay Sever

Kay Sever


By Kay Sever, Mining Improvement Specialist and Change Leader, CMC

It's easy to speak and write about equipment performance. You measure every aspect of the production process (throughput, delays, productivity) and budget for revenue, cost and profit. Did your investment in optimization meet the expected performance and profit targets? If not, what do you need to do to get better?

When numbers are involved, it is easy to ask questions about improvement and change. But what if the topic involves culture? When hearts and mindsets are involved, it's a different story. Linking culture to production, cost, profit (and optimization) is a HUGE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY that has “off-the-chart” returns. Why do most companies leave that opportunity on the table? A big reason is what SOME PEOPLE (i.e., executives, change management theorists, improvement specialists, etc.) say about change and optimization:

  • SOME PEOPLE SAY that ALL opportunities to reduce costs, increase production and optimize performance can be addressed via process changes using Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, etc. There is no doubt that millions of dollars of improvements can be captured with process changes, but if process changes are all that’s required to solve problems, why do companies seek out new initiatives because old ones did not do the job?
  • SOME PEOPLE SAY that corporate culture is equivalent to the culture of the workforce. For them, culture change means changing the workforce culture. They correctly believe that culture can impact profit and sometimes hire experts to change the workforce culture for that reason. What if their definition of culture is too narrow? How many problems will be ignored because management culture was not included?
  • SOME PEOPLE SAY that "people should just do what they are told to do and we will make money". If this view is held by managers, it creates a “reactive culture” where people wait to be told what to do and disconnect themselves from the solution to problems. Unmeasured losses, sometimes in the millions of dollars, are the result. How much will be lost when managers are unaware of their link to culture?
  • SOME PEOPLE SAY that companies move through two phases of change to achieve optimization: 1) the implementation of one or more improvement initiatives to improve measurements, problem solving and communications and 2) a sizeable investment in new equipment upgrades to achieve optimization. With significant investment in equipment comes new expectations for performance, but what if many problems continue AFTER the equipment is operational?
  • SOME PEOPLE SAY that the management system (management processes, beliefs and behaviors) are outside the scope of change initiatives. MOST PEOPLE SAY that the management system (and management culture) are outside the scope of optimization… that managers have what they need to set targets and make good decisions… that their methods have worked for years. There is a problem with this perspective: the management system does not include your company’s PROFIT POTENTIAL, the one thing you chase when optimization is your goal. What if it did? What would change if you understood the gap between today’s performance and what was possible to achieve?

How many billions of dollars have been lost through the decades because of the perspectives and focus of SOME PEOPLE? What if they are wrong?

I SAY that the impact of people (especially the management team) on profit has been misunderstood, underestimated and overlooked for too long. To achieve “full optimization” and tap your organization’s profit potential, you need an EQUAL FOCUS on equipment and people (including management) that reveals the profit potential linked to your culture and defines management’s role in capturing that potential.

With that kind of balanced focus,

  • You can shift the focus from “Can we meet budget?” to “How good can we be?”
  • Change faster and make more money, even if you are chasing optimization.
  • You can finally overcome barriers caused by your management team’s mindset about culture and change.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: How much MORE MONEY could you make with a culture linked to profit and optimization?
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Kay Sever is an industry leader in performance optimization and change acceleration. She helps companies experience “break-through change” by removing the barriers that hold them back. To assist with this work, Kay created a management training program that changes the way people think about change, their role in change and their beliefs about what is possible to change and achieve. It prepares companies for optimization and builds trust and management credibility. See MiningOpportunity.com for details on her services, contact information and products.

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