As a thought leader, author, educator, and change leadership practitioner, I write a weekly article that benefits leaders who want to improve their organizations significantly.
We continue to explore the various elements of running an efficient and effective business. Last week, we had an overview of the need for attention to detail. This week's focus is the need to take calculated risks that will lead to failing occasionally. Companies need to push the innovation envelope to keep pace or gain an advantage over their competition, meaning that a few initiatives will miss the mark of the many others that will result in success.
Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.—Elon Musk
Musk is known for leading companies willing to push the innovation envelope. In aviation and aerospace, to push the envelope is to go beyond the existing limitations while trying to attempt something that some would view as radical or risky. We are not looking for this extreme in business, but having an environment where what some would call a failure should be seen as a learning experience that we embrace when taking risks that do not result in success. In particular, if it occurs along with higher overall innovation success, that creates a stronger market position. To make this a reality, an organization must have a heavy plan–light do planning mentality.
An example of the heavy plan–light do approach is to develop a robust design with the ideal set of operations while optimizing process and material tolerances. Furthermore, it is crucial to integrate a standardization of parts with a high level of manufacturability. The idea is not original to me, and unfortunately, I seem unable to give proper attribution to the person originating the concept. However, the idea is that it costs 1X to change the design in that phase, 10X to revise the product specifications in the prototype phase, and 100X to make a change once production begins. Taking the time to develop the design upfront provides the best opportunity to reduce overall costs and increases the likelihood of innovation success.
Taking a "heavy plan" and a "light do" approach to running a company requires thorough planning and strategizing before taking action. A list of strategies includes:
• Adaptability – Heavy planning does not negate the need to adapt the plan where it is critical to recognize the need for an unanticipated issue at the earliest stage to revise the projects at the earliest point since the business environment can change rapidly, necessitating the need to make informed plan adjustments promptly.
• Clarity of Purpose – The emphasis on heavy planning requires comprehensive research, analysis, and detailed planning that leads to developing goals, objectives, and steps to achieve them where every project member has clarity of the work plan details.
• Consistency and Alignment – Bringing together a cross-functional team to develop a robust upfront plan where each discipline can develop common objectives with uniformity and order in decision-making and execution leads to a greater likelihood of project success.
• Investor and Stakeholder Confidence – Those committing financial resources to the organization expect the company to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that meets the goals and objectives efficiently and effectively to maximize their investment.
• Long-Term Success – The organization that develops significant strength in the heavy plan-light do approach positions it for long-term sustainability and growth through sustained success by avoiding ad hoc decisions or short-term thinking.
• Measurement and Evaluation – Tracking clear benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow the team to stay on top of their project progress and allow for post-project review to develop corrective actions that will strengthen their capability to deliver the business goals of current and future projects.
• Resource Allocation – Most organizations are resource-scarce, so developing efficient and effective project implementations allows for prioritizing tasks and resource allocation to reduce waste and maximize project outcomes.
• Risk Mitigation – The more substantial the initial plan, the more significant the likelihood of identifying potential challenges and risks upfront with the potential to avoid costly mistakes and unexpected setbacks.
The heavy plan-light do approach requires a balance of committing to making an initial plan as robust at the beginning of the project with an understanding of the need to adjust plans as market conditions require adjusting the initial goals and objectives.
Organizations need to take calculated risks that will lead to failure occasionally. The objective is to develop an environment where what some would call a failure should be seen as a learning experience that we embrace. Taking the time to properly plan upfront provides the best opportunity to reduce overall costs and increases the likelihood of innovation success.
Manufacturing leaders interested in adopting the heavy plan-light do approach can begin by embracing the Design for Manufacturing process for designing products. The 11 Key Principles of Design for Manufacturing provides a brief overview of the process elements. After successfully integrating this approach, the organization can adopt additional initiatives.
I have expressed appreciation in the past for my experience working for a Japanese company that incorporated many lean manufacturing principles. One of these was the Design for Manufacturing approach that led to more robust product designs with high levels of manufacturability.
Next week's blog will shift to the essential element of the need to take calculated risks that will lead to occasionally failing, which is integral to becoming a humanist manufacturing organization.
To learn more about our work or read more blog posts, visit emmanuelstratgicsustainability.com.
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