David Dubinsky – Chapter Seven

David Dubinsky

Daily Management: The Foundation for High-Performance Organizations


This chapter is intended for business leaders, managers and anyone else who is serious about driving extraordinary performance in their business. Organizations that are interested in making significant advancement in their journey toward Operational Excellence and Lean will resonate with and find great value in the depth and breadth of these methods proposed. We will outline a comprehensive management and improvement system that is on steroids compared to what other businesses have in place today.

This chapter will help you to:

  • Discover the 10 foundational methods of a Daily Management system;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your current Daily Management System; and
  • Create extraordinary passion for and commitment to dramatic improvement via change management.

Introduction: Building a Case for Change

Regardless of the business or occupation you are in, the speed at which we all must change and relentlessly improve is dramatically increasing every year. Simply coping with the increasing pace and complexity of performance demands is simply no longer good enough. A coping strategy will just put you farther behind the competition, and ultimately, in last place with respect to your competitors.

A critical analysis of the highest performing organizations and individuals most often reveals an uncompromising attention to the basics:

  • driving to a set of performance goals;
  • measuring performance against those goals;
  • taking proactive action to resolve issues and make improvements quickly; and
  • increasing performance expectations once targets are met.

Most organizations and individuals apply these methods to some degree already, but very few have a comprehensive and integrated system with the level of rigor and aggressiveness needed to drive impactful and sustainable results on a daily basis. It’s like comparing someone who works out in the gym a few times per week versus an Olympic athlete who trains rigorously every day with extreme focus, attention to detail and a set of actions specifically designed to improve their daily performance.

A friend of mine started competing in triathlons two years ago. After a year of exercising and training, he entered the Chicago triathlon and placed in the 50th percentile for his age. This was a great accomplishment for anyone competing in their first triathlon. After an additional year of aggressive training and dieting, he placed in the 80th percentile. This year, he plans to do even better. However, when you compare his performance to professional athletes, there is still a huge difference.

In the case of business, if you are in the top 20%, it’s not necessarily that bad, but it’s not that great either. If you rest on your laurels, it’s quite easy to drop back to the middle of the pack, placing your business in jeopardy. Alternatively, if you don’t manage your performance aggressively and change what you are doing, you will never compete at the highest levels. Companies that are extremely mature in their Lean or Operational Excellence journey are likely competing at the highest levels in their market. The critical questions you must ask yourself include:

  1. How much more competitive do you need to be to:
    • reach and/or compete with the highest performing competitors in your market?
    • sustain your current position in the market to remain viable?
  2. How competitive do you want to be?

In most cases, I will reference the application of daily management to an organization. However, daily management is just as easily applied at an individual level.

Daily Management Introduction and Framework

Whether you are a healthcare provider, service organization or manufacturing facility, having a mindset of doing only what is necessary to get by perpetuates a reduction in competitiveness and puts businesses at risk. This approach results in constant firefighting that escalates year after year as competition increases. To achieve truly extraordinary levels of performance, organizations need a strategically aligned and culturally driven daily management and improvement system that quickly identifies and resolves the most critical improvement needs of the business.

Organizations that are focused on driving Operational Excellence and/or Lean use many of the tools and processes proposed in this chapter that make up a robust Daily Management system. However, most often it’s only the highest performing organizations that apply them in as comprehensive, integrated and rigorous a manner as outlined here.

The tools and processes needed to deploy Daily Management (shown on page 90) can be broken down into ten areas.

  1. Business Strategy: The business strategy defines the critical initiatives required to realize the business’ objectives and goals. Many organizations have a business strategy in place, but it is often outdated and fails to incorporate any linkage to actual daily work. The objectives and goals of the business should be clear and aggressive, as well as realistic. A clear, realistic sense of urgency provides a focused call to action and the required backbone for any continuous improvement effort.
  2. Goal Deployment: A clear vision and strategy enable organizational performance goals and key performance indicators (KPI) to be established. These goals and KPIs are then deployed down through each successive organizational level and then to each individual. This is done to ensure that there is clarity and alignment of performance expectations across the organization.

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