Management Operating System: The cultural underpinnings of an effective MOS

Published: 2019

By Jaco Pieterse Principal Consultant, dss+

What happens when companies fail to translate their corporate goals into effective daily actions? In the first part of this three-part MOS series, we explored how a strong Management Operating System (MOS) can bridge the gap between an operating strategy and actionable targets. In this piece, we will delve into the behaviors and cultural changes that go hand in hand with an effective MOS. An organization’s fundamental premise should be that everyone adds value on a continual, daily basis. What brings this premise to life is an effective MOS — where there is openness to change alongside a commitment to transparency. This allows people across all levels of an organization to see challenges clearly and solve them quickly. It is also crucial for people to understand that there is always enough time and resources to focus on the most important things. Arguably the most important cultural mindset associated with a well-defined MOS is one of continuous improvement. Similarly, there must be an orientation towards action. Improving on a 60/40 solution is always better than stalling to perfect a plan or design. This includes the realization that all that is needed to advance complex tasks or projects toward a successful outcome is a clear understanding of what that successful outcome looks like and what the next physical action should be. In this sense, over-planning is wasteful because it is impossible to define all the actions needed to complete a project at the outset.

Furthermore, the MOS should result in the habitual execution of a number of foundational behaviors that will drive operational excellence as illustrated:

In part one, we shared how dss+ helped address MOS issues at a mining and metals company. The company’s front line lacked the architecture and systems to support performance management and decision-making; so with the help of dss+, the company developed a MOS with an integrated and holistic approach towards problem solving and supported by the cultural elements required, by taking the following measures:

  • Cascading KPIs, an important success factor of MOS, as shared in part three, were correctly linked to desired lagging performance, ensuring clear accountability at shift level on both safety and operational parameters.
  • Implementing support mechanisms required for application consistency and sustainability across the overall process, including drafting of meeting charters, compiling integrated shift handover meetings, implementing structured shift pre-start meetings and ensuring access to relevant data and information needed to make informed decisions.
  • Facilitating a change from reactive to a proactive mindset and behaviors across all disciplines.
  • Embedding rituals and leader-standard work activities into the system.
  • Improving short-interval control on identified leading KPIs.
  • Solving problems as and when they arose within short time frames whilst following a simple yet structured approach.
  • Improving overall meeting effectiveness.

As a result, the mining company achieved its best performance on front line leading KPIs within a rolling 12-month period, and the section that participated in the exercise became the benchmark operation within the department. The front line was bolstered by highly effective and well-structured meetings with accompanying visualization and information flow to support them and the establishment of a platform to deliver on future objectives. The front line also took full ownership of applicable KPIs and objectives on aspects relevant to their influence, and recurring failures were addressed and resolved rapidly.

With a systematic way of working, corporate goals, and daily actions that are aligned and operating, strategy is translated into specific and actionable targets. Companies can release or protect value when individuals have specific leading KPIs to act upon at their organizational level and fulfill their respective functions accordingly. Finally, when the focus is on planning and reviewing phases, meetings and discussions become action-driven and outcome-focused.

dss+ understands the inter-connectivity that complex organizations are challenged with and how a proper MOS should be designed and implemented to deliver sustainable results.

This article is part two 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 3: Effective MOS implementation as enabler to achieve a predictable operational performance and ensure sustainability

To create a bespoke improvement program that truly meets the needs of your company, contact dss+ today.