There is always a desire to have the reputation as the go-to leading edge organization; the one customers and competitors look to as the benchmark, the one to be compared against.
To get there is an achievable journey, and well worth the effort. Being leading edge requires innovation, cutting edge techniques – like Lean – insight, exceptional talent, and the ability to provide solutions.
The first part to look at is the workforce. Research shows that the top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004; we are preparing potential employees for jobs that don’t even exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet. That’s how fast the working world is changing, and your ability to adapt is essential. These are opportunities for you to find the best people to drive a leading edge philosophy.
Potential employees have changed as well. Today’s students leaving school to enter the workforce will average 10 – 14 different jobs by age 38, and 1 in 2 employees has been with their current employer less than 5 years. So how do you get and keep good people? Give them a compelling vision, mission, and a strategy that wins. Give them an organization that values and appreciates what they have to offer. This allows the organization to capitalize on their intellectual capital. It’s also irreplaceable. People want to be part of something special. They get the job done, not machines or technology; make your employees matter.
Find ways to put people into positions so they excel. Never tolerate mediocrity; if you think that way, that’s what you’ll get.
The second part is to look at your mission, vision, and values. Here’s what you stand for, what sets you apart. Have very high standards and never compromise them. Also, make sure that everyone in the company understands the context of these and how it applies to their role in the organization.
Your mission is who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Most employees in public and private sectors have no idea what their mission, vision, or values are. Your vision statement is your desired outcome. The values guide behavior and performance. Make sure that everything you do helps you achieve your mission; if it doesn’t, get it off the table.
Whatever the job, always look for better ways to get it done. Emphasize continuous improvement. Stop dragging the past into the future; learn from the past and look forward. Stand out – do something beyond what’s expected.
The third step is to ask the hard questions and answer them truthfully. Ask yourself these simple, but profound questions:
- If I want to be the best how do I get there?
- How is the organization currently positioned?
- Are you producing the results you want right now?
- Is the organization ready to make the adjustments?
Teach your employees that when a problem is seen, it is symptomatic of a deeper problem. Teach them the use of Lean tools to do real problem identification. Results in an organization always go directly to the bottom line. The only way to get and keep good people is to provide them a great workplace.
Add all these together and you’ll build a leading edge organization. There are more, of course, but this will get you well on your way. You must be the competitive differentiator, and be willing to be able to adjust to a volatile, ever changing world