Features, Growing sovereign capability

Stronger ships weather greater storms

For over 20 years, we at AME Australia have been privileged to inspire Members to seek relentless and unwavering continual improvement with their teams, suppliers, customers and critical stakeholders as they build resilience and strive for success.

Those who have pledged their commitment to excellence invest these efforts with a clear purpose that steers their direction and plans to how to get there, built with engaged and aligned teams that own the actions to make it all happen.

Leaders, Owners and Executives of these organisations exemplify this by following a rigorous process, living foundational principles of human relations and resisting ‘delegating’ excellence – instead choosing to lead from the front. The strongest do this with a steeled mindset knowing that standing still is not an option and being prepared is the battle half won.

It is no secret that, broadly, Australian Manufacturers have recently been in a state of reaction to political and snap public health decisions, global disruption and waves of demand and constraints one after another. As a result, many are exhausted and finding their next breath to keep their momentum or rediscover stability.

The responses and outcomes from this period have left many investing in significant deep learning activities from familiar issues, namely:

The impact on inventories & lead times driven by raw material and supply chain reliability challenges;

Exposed gaps in capacity & capability from deliberate reshoring or necessary increases for local production;

Rapid inflationary pricing being passed on in response to mitigation of risk, whether real or perceived;

Demand on Leaders created by the rapid adoption of digital/hybrid operating environments and the evolving needs of their teams.

Regardless of any findings, it is undeniable that no person, function or operation has been left untouched, ultimately having to undergo some degree of transformation to see themselves through, not to mention readying themselves for whatever the future holds.

No matter how well any of us have fared, Manufacturing Leaders are now contemplating critical questions to chart new courses to skirt headwinds and exploit opportunities into the foreseeable future.

Tim Odokeychuk, AME President.

In recent AME surveys and focus groups, we have been fortunate to hear the voice of our Members who sum up these questions into the key areas of Capacity, Capability and Culture:

How Do I Get the Resource Equation Right?

Resource Quantity – The risk of having too little or too much

Resource Alignment – Onboarding people and partners and sustaining their adherence to process, policy or direction

Resource Effectiveness – The risk of the inconsistency of quality or reliability

What Skills Do We Need For The Future to Build and Balance the Right Capabilities?

Leadership Growth – The demand on the organisation to evolve Leaders at the speed needed to be most effective for today and the future; in addition to the individual to adapt to the changing landscapes they and their teams face

Organisational Responsiveness – Predicting and initiating changes across the entire value chain ahead of the need, then leading through volatile operating conditions with a balance of certainty as well as the opportunity to adapt & learn along the way

Foundational & Technical Problem-Solving – Supporting the development of problem-solving aptitudes for more complex situations while continuing to strengthen core competencies.

What Can We Do To Keep the Culture On Course?

Connection – New ways of working are creating challenges for Leaders and their teams to create flow and more harmonious environments to thrive

Consistency – Increased reactionary operating environment disrupting Leadership priorities at the expense of activities less “mission critical”.

Opportunities ahead for those fostering excellence

Against this backdrop, the good news is that organisations already committed to excellence are ‘building stronger ships’ and have a jump start in global competitiveness against those who are uncertain about their strategies, inconsistent in their methods or have lacked a shared pathway with their people.

Even if you’re beginning your excellence journey, AME sees 3 critical areas that all Manufacturers can focus on to strengthen operations, solidify the principles of success and exploit opportunities over the next 3-5 years to help shape your future.

#1: Stabilise Your Core

Ensure that your Leadership has formed and communicated a clear Vision to your team. Ensure a Constancy of Purpose remains to follow through on your best-known course of action.

Uphold Frameworks and ways of working that are adoptable and predictable so your team can follow them.  This is necessary to achieve the discipline needed to stay on course together.

Ensure there’s a best-known way (or standard) for each process. From the Top Floor to Shop Floor, without a common language of work, visual-preferred, it will be difficult for you to build flexibility into work and investigate improvements.

#2: Seek to Become The Employer
of Choice

Begin with a foundation of mutual respect for all people & the communities you operate in.

Nurture professional and personal growth for your team members by providing them with personalised development opportunities.

Engage people on both personal & team levels to touch hearts and make winning together the aim.

Recognise that a fair-value exchange for talent is necessary.

Leverage your diverse make-up of backgrounds, experience & perspectives to strengthen the whole.

#3: Design Competitiveness Into
Your Organisation

Work with your Customers, Suppliers and Owners to optimise flow and minimise the cost to operate your entire value chain. Consider consolidation horizontally for flow and quality and vertically to eliminate burdens between entities.

Seek to be renowned for keeping promises and solidifying your market position through quality and delivery reliability.

Explore new market creation by designing solutions and ventures to best serve unmet needs while ensuring the capabilities and capital are in place to execute them right-first-time.

What leaders can do now to shape their future

You may be saying that winning new markets, attracting and retaining talent while harmoniously operating systems that keep the organisation on track all sounds good.  However, we all know the reality is that these are all outcomes of a significant amount of investment and concentrated effort of Leaders and their teams sharing the same passion  for succeeding together.

At the root of things, the long-term success of any sustained commitment to excellence requires a promise to oneself & each other not to waver from a shared purpose, a continual understanding of where you are and where you want to be; and the enablement to move from here to there.

Getting started is often the biggest hurdle but falling into the prioritising trap of having ‘no time to improve’ is the culprit for losing sight that problems you solve today are capacity and knowledge able to be used tomorrow. [insert square-wheeled wagon here, of course!]

There are many things Leaders, and their teams can do now to build stronger ships together and enjoy smoother sailing even into rough seas.

Pledge a Commitment to Excellence

If it’s meant to be, it starts with ‘me’. As a Leader, you have been gifted the privilege to set the tone, pace and behavioural examples that others will follow. Uncertainty within oneself will quickly become apparent to others and faith will quickly be lost. Yet, a Leader with resolve and respect for others will provide direction in the now and guides how the team moves forward towards the future.

Our Members have chosen the latter, and to live by example which we’re honoured to see in each of our interactions with them. Your own personal pledge to excellence can start today in a few simple ways:

Cease accepting the current situation and fighting fires on a daily basis. Instead, remove the cause of today’s problem to build tomorrow’s capacity.

Turn conflicts into collaboration by investing energy to find and reinforce Win-Wins, for those involved will experience IF they solve the problem together. Give them structure and support but space to create the best way and watch how time-wasting debates turn into time-creating efforts that remove waste from your business.

Emphasising your shared purpose should be woven into the way you communicate with all. It’s important your team has certainty of why their efforts matter and how they relate to the mission you’re on together. Clarify what is coming, what can be and how it is all connected.

Know Where You Stand & Carve Your Pathway to Excellence

Ensure your team understands what world-class is, AND inspire them towards the next achievable milestone to strive towards. Leverage the AME Past Excellence Award Winner’s channel on YouTube as a quick way to get an inside view into some of the world’s best and most mature organisations.

You can also consider joining our 2023 AME International Study Tour to have a guided experience to engage first-hand with some of those companies.

Are you already aligned and inspired? Then focus on learning where you should invest your efforts.

There are many types of assessments, audits and evaluations any business must undertake to understand its risks, strengths and opportunities. When it comes to a holistic, 360-degree and evidence-based Excellence maturity-level defining assessment, AME has developed the AME Lean Sensei™, which allows organisations to benchmark, define measurable gaps against priorities and prepare a Pathway for Excellence, an all-in-one framework.

The Lean Sensei™ penetrates vertically, horizontally and across value streams in areas of Management Systems, People Centric Leadership and Improvement Methods, including recent demonstratable business results to inform the best picture of where you are today. With visual outputs (scorecards, radar charts, ‘the pyramid’) to help you pinpoint areas of improvement, you’re directly linked to video and written resources to help move you forward on your priority areas that match your objectives.

Provide Your Team What They Need To Get There

Any business requires the competencies to execute its objectives effectively. Needs-based learning & development opportunities need to be documented and programmed in advance to create awareness, deliver knowledge, provide experiences to apply new learnings and embed them into practice.

Beyond their Internal Organisational Development programs, our Members work directly with us, our Solution Providers and Partner Educational Institutions to help them access the knowledge, skills and processes required to build mastery across their organisations. They also leverage AME’s on-demand Members Portal for onboarding content or to support sustained awareness of principles, improvement methods and tools over time.

Don’t Go It Alone – Connect and Collaborate. They say if you want to go fast (for a little bit), go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

No one organisation has a monopoly on the best ideas, methods or results.

Work to open your team’s perspectives to other organisations, industries and cultures to deepen appreciation for approaches that might get you better results. A few ways to do this are to:

Share, learn and grow with your related industry group, with us at our in-person and virtual AME networking events, conferences here and abroad.

Create relationships with other Leaders that can appreciate the journey you’re on and you can trust for advice. For example, the AME Executive Round Table was created to forge relationships with business owners and executives to get invaluable support tailored to their situations.

Going to see and experience excellence in action is one of the most rewarding experiences anyone striving to improve can have. AME Site Tours help our Members share their Excellence Journeys to inspire others and allow them to receive feedback towards further improvements they can make.

Get world-leading perspectives and trusted advice from an expert. Whether you find your own specialist or wish to choose to use an AME Coach, leveraging an experienced external professional can pay dividends to help you break out of cycles that inhibit growth and puts your future at risk.

Stay the course and remember, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” – Aristotle 

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