OpEx Solutions

'There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently
that which should not be done at all'.

—Peter F. Drucker.





High Failure Rate Surgeon
Organizations ask for help when they are on the brink of failure

by Martin Nazareth, OpEx Solutions


When I was growing up, one of the surgeons in town was considered the best, however, when we looked at his success rate it was lower than the next two best surgeons. The reason was that most of the high-risk cases which the other surgeons would not even accept were referred to the best surgeon.

Similar things happen in the management of organizations. Most organizations want to prove that they can get the desired improvement on their own and decide to ask for help when everything has failed. Quite often, this is too late. By then their leaders have already made up their minds that the hypothesis is not proven to be true:

•  the program does not work;

•  the champion is not capable; and/or

•  the people are not supporting the program.


What are some of the causes of these situations? Unlike the surgeon’s case, where patients with late diagnosis or emergencies due to accidents were referred to him, in organizations, new leaders and managers have new ideas and they want to prove themselves. They might have overstated their capabilities and asking for help would only expose their weaknesses. Many such people genuinely want to do a good job and they work hard to achieve the results they promised. Unfortunately, with inadequate qualifications, experience and capabilities, they drive by trial-and-error —which I refer to as “tweaking” with half knowledge and good intentions.

As they continue to tweak without meeting expectations a lot of damage is done:

  • cost of improvement is larger than the benefit;
  • constant change in direction demoralizes the people;
  • multiple initiatives unduly stresses the people;
  • some of the good and experienced whistle blowers will have been  fired; and
  • there is loss of opportunity due to wrong direction for improvement

The senior leadership realizes that with the additional passage of time, more damage will be done and some hard decisions need to be made. They base their decision on one or a combination of the hypothesis conclusions previously mentioned. At this juncture, if the champion of the program asks for expert help, depending on the expert’s capability, he/she may be able to show quick and significant improvement. The million dollar question is whether they are able to change the decision of the senior leadership and undo the damage already done — leading to the next iteration of change. If they bring in another inexperienced, incapable person, the tweaking starts all over again.

In the recent past, we have seen that quite a few champions of change do not ask for the right help until it is too late; and, in most cases, the surgeon is not able to save them from the inevitable decision of the senior leadership.

Here are some tips to identify early when to ask for help:

  • Leadership — annual plan is not signed off by January
  • Programs and projects — no slack at the end of the project
  • Operations — production targets not met three days in a row
  • Quality — issue indicates early signs of a chronic problem
  • Sales — quotes are trending down for two months in a row
  • Finance — not closing books by fourth day of the month
  • Overall — no way to ID any of the above until it is too late


Back to Basics of Operational Excellence

The title Back to Basics of Operational Excellence is a bit misleading. Many would think this is a seminar for beginners who need to get a general idea of operational excellence tools and methods; however, the information contained in the two-day seminar is geared to both leaders and practitioners.


Back to Basics of Operational Excellence was hosted by Entegris in Round Rock, TX (Austin area) September 2-3, 2015. Participants from five companies attended — ranging from operations leaders to supervisors.  Some of the comments included: "I knew many of these things — just was not applying them correctly.'' or "I thought using this method would be so much more complicated — didn't know I could use this so simply!" or "I wasn't sure what I should be stressing the most in 5S — most of the time I was going after a 'look'."
One of the most well-received parts of the seminar was the fact that English-language terms were used, demystifying an often confusing jargon of foreign terms. Some of the topics covered in the two days included: 5S Workplace Organization, Standard Work, Daily Visual Management, Problem Solving, and Rapid and Continuous Improvement. Participants worked exercises to help them identify areas in their specific organizations that might be prime candidates for utilizing some of the basic operational excellence tools and methods for rapid, sustainable improvement.



OpEx Solutions is an organization that helps identify strategic areas for improvement and provides effective high-value, low-cost solutions, training, and project management to drive significant productivity improvement through the use of operational excellence tools and systems in most manufacturing and service industries.

With a variety of offerings to choose from, we're confident of working with your organization to find and define your own way through:

  • Executive Coaching
  • World-class Training
  • Dedicated Workshops
  • Knowledge Network
  • Project Management

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

Find out more About Us, then look at our Stategy to make your possibilities a reality.


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For free email business advice, send your questions, comments or ideas to mnazareth@opexsolutions.org. For issues that are of particular interest to the the community, we may publish (with your permission) your questions along with our answers on this web site.

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