The spotlight often falls on the CEO as transformations take place:

WSJ – Ferrari’s new CEO Benedetto Vigna and his transformation plan.

Forbes – How GE’s CEO used a Japanese manufacturing tactic to turn the company around—and got the stock to outperform Apple and Microsoft last year.

ResiClubBillionaire Brad Jacobs plans to build a giant in the building materials space through acquisitions.

However, the operational leaders who make these transformations actually happen are seldom mentioned. But the work is noticed! Operational excellence is essential to get stuff done.

In every sector there is always a shortage of talented operators who can understand the strategic rationale and determine a plan to execute it. You can be 95% right on strategy but operations needs to be 100% right.

Operators develop a specific set of skills built up over decades of solving challenges. These skills are seen in successful outcomes in major ways:

  • Connecting marketing to revenue and achieving marketing pipeline targets every quarter
  • Delivering world class production quality on time and on budget
  • Creating a culture of safety throughout the manufacturing environment
  • Understanding acquisition targets operationally and how they might be integrated successfully into the acquirer
  • Identifying KPIs that actually measure progress, production to warranty claims, sales growth to NPS scores, margin improvements through smarter procurement
  • Playbooks are created for every department that ensure consistent performance and that are aligned to company objectives
  • A company’s products are focused on delivering user satisfaction
  • Value leakage is spotted and fixed before it becomes fatal
  • Projects are well resourced and managed on time and on budget
  • Alignment of effort means stuff happens efficiently
  • Incentives match behavior required
  • All challenges succumb to relentless questions until a solution emerges
  • Existing staff are developed in new ways and are constantly pushed to bring their best work
  • Post-mortems are applied to major projects to build a learning machine
  • People feel supported and safe, and drama is minimized

As you scale your business and perhaps build it towards an exit or an IPO one day, never forget the importance of folk that understand the objectives and can get stuff done. Motivate them, recruit them and allow them corridors of freedom to transform your vision into a remarkable business.

Ian is the CEO/founder of Boston based The Portfolio Partnership, a Value Creation Practice. We help owners “build businesses buyers love to buy” by deploying our successful playbooks. It starts with Positioning/Branding. We seamlessly join your team to work on the right stuff.

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