Let’s face it, change is inevitable. To succeed in the business world today, we must accept this and try our best to prepare. The rate of change is accelerating, due in part to the incredible advances in information technology. How can we focus on the right priorities, the right moves on the chessboard to ensure that we stay relevant and competitive? As a CEO, I think about this every day.
In the year 2000 manufacturing in the US employed 15M and healthcare 13M, by 2022, manufacturing will shrink to 11M and healthcare will balloon to 22M. This is in part due to the fact that the US population is aging and people expect better care now than they ever have before. There is a rapier focus on positive patient experiences and outcomes, and at the same time, operating budgets are under extreme pressure due to changes in government regulations and Medicare funding.
Healthcare is not alone in this struggle. The pace of change in manufacturing, retail, financial services and food and beverage is also rapidly increasing, and these industries are also challenged to improve customer experiences, quality, and safety. Brand loyalty is a thing of the past, instant gratification of need through internet shopping is the new reality with price and delivery the main decision criteria. From government regulations in financial services to competition from emerging markets in manufacturing, the pressure for change is intense.
Business leaders must sort through all of these competing demands and restrictions to find a way to make their businesses not only survive, but also thrive in today’s competitive marketplace. Agility and adaptability are the keys to success today, as the market changes so rapidly that there are no guarantees on what new demands or challenges tomorrow might bring.
How do successful leaders achieve such agility?
Information technology is the key to support successful, cost-effective business agility. In healthcare, a major focus today is in electronic medical records (EMR) implementation, while in other industries, ERP, Supply Chain, CRM and Financial Systems are migrating to the Cloud. All of these systems are implemented in order to increase organizational efficiency and agility, allowing the businesses to be more responsive and effective to the needs of the customer.
In these systems, organizations have found a way to do their work more efficiently. But what about improving the work they do, to stay one step ahead of financial pressure, consumer demands, and governmental regulations?
“We can’t implement process improvement solutions today, we are too busy with our EMR deployment,” a healthcare leader told us recently. Do you think you're too busy for process improvement? The reason to implement new information technology is to IMPROVE processes... if there is no focus on improving business processes BEFORE new systems are implemented, then won't the result will be automation of BAD processes, guaranteeing an acceleration of business DECLINE?
So, when is the right time to focus on business process improvement? The answer is NOW! It should be everyone’s job, every day. Process improvement is NOT a project with a start date and an end date; it is a continuous culture of sustainable, learned behavior. It is leadership’s role to create a vision and empower employees to improve the business.