Effective MOS implementation as enabler to achieve a predictable operational performance and ensure sustainability

Published: 2019

By Jaco Pieterse Principal Consultant, dss+

In part one and two of this series, we looked at how a Management Operating System (MOS) can improve organizational performance, as well as the role that behavior and culture plays in an effective MOS. However, by looking at implementing a MOS, the tougher question to ask is: where to start with the MOS? Should it be geographic? For example, corporate vs. site, or functional, production vs. supply chain etc.? Essentially, it is crucial that the design and purpose of the MOS be considered before any implementation work can start.

At dss+, experience has shown that significant improvements in critical areas of the operation tend to create a lighthouse within an organization. The initial focus must be where clear value release or risk reduction can be displayed in order for the rest of the organization to see the value of the MOS and how it became the new way of working in that particular section.

A well-implemented MOS would typically work, in fact, when the implementation integrates risk and operations within the line but also across departments and functions

As organizations strive to become leaner, they should be focusing the improvement effort on what drives the most significant impact and ensure that resources and efforts are focused on the identified problem areas that would unlock the most value. This brings us to three fundamental concepts:

  • Follow a data and information driven approach.
  • Focus and start on what matters most. The effort must be risk and value driven and focus on quick wins to rapidly realize results. Preferably look at risk and value at the same time.
  • Design for impact and practicality, not for perfection. It is better to start on less than perfect and iterate from there than not starting at all.

Using the MOS tool to solve problems allows the business to work at the intersection between various functions and to evaluate cross value chain impact of the selected efforts, before integrating the key focus areas across the value chain and departments to ensure alignment on the desired strategic objectives.

After identifying where the problem is that unlocks the most immediate value, the next step in the rollout is to conduct a brown paper exercise. This is one of the most powerful tools that allows the business to map out the MOS, using the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) framework, a four-stage cycle, as explained in part 1, against various time horizons and/or roles in the organization, highlighting gaps and overlaps. The idea is to get an understanding of how the annual plan translates into the various activities on either a day-to-day or shift-by-shift basis down to the frontline, using actual reports and tools that are used by the business.

Once the brown paper is set up and mapped out, one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders allow for understanding around the most critical gaps and overlaps in the organization. It is also effective in highlighting what works well and reward good practices within the organization.

The last step involves designing and aligning the future state of the organization after which the MOS can be rolled out.

A well-defined MOS is a key enabler to achieve stable and predictable operational performance and ensure sustainability of current and future improvement initiatives. Various vital principles are essential for any MOS rollout:

1. Begin with the frontline: The frontline is where active and visible improvements can be made quickly and most effectively, as it is heavily execution focused and therefore is the first place where the effect will be evident. This allows for short interval control. All supporting processes exist within an operation with the intent to execute safer, more predictably and to a higher value; therefore the frontline is the place to start.

2. Define KPIs and targets and cascade it through the organization:
The desired outcomes can only be achieved and sustained when the entire organization, at all levels, is committed to the execution of the MOS. Therefore, it is essential to identify KPIs and metrics and cascade them through the organization. This involves clarifying roles and responsibilities and building capabilities, defining effective meeting structures and associated flow of information, designing and implementing the required rituals and leader standard work activities, and strengthening the application of problem solving tools while enhancing the continuous improvement process.

3. Focus on a clear, expected outcome:
A MOS is a permanent platform that facilitates alignment of the organization on key risk reduction and business performance improvements, priorities and goals. It must be simple and intuitive, should add minimal administrative burden and should enable consistent execution on what matters most.

4. Coach extensively throughout the rollout: Tracking the progress and quality of the MOS implementation is essential throughout the deployment. Ownership and line management involvement through leader standard work activities are key and should include robust and straightforward tracking that is reviewed on a weekly basis. Coaching, problem-solving initiatives and line walks that support the MOS are essential to ensure effectiveness and sustainability.

Basic meeting disciplines should be enforced and coached, including if the meeting started and finished on time, whether the right stakeholders were prepared and present, and whether actions are being closed off and new ones are being assigned. The principal objective of any meeting is to ensure the right stakeholders are being held accountable, and that the right things are getting done.

5. Continual tracking:
By tracking those few critical actions daily that move the organization forward – a culture of performance and accountability begins to take hold of the organization, which is the grounding basis for any performance improvement culture.

In closing, a well-defined MOS will ensure sustainable value creation as it seamlessly integrates the organization and the associated information flow.

This article is part three of a three-part series about the role of MOS in performance improvement. Read Part 1: Management Operating Systems: The secret to performance improvement and Part 2: Management Operating System: The cultural underpinnings of an effective MOS To create a bespoke improvement program that truly meets the needs of your company, contact dss+ today.