Optimization and Context: Managing Your Process of “Discovery”

SOURCE: Kay Sever | May 31, 2022

Context is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement or idea”. In 2022, we will be exploring the context surrounding optimization in business…

1) what we believe and have been taught about success been taught about success in business and

2) how these beliefs have influenced our perspectives on the“who, what, when and how” of optimization and the gains we are able to achieve and sustain.

To illustrate the power of context on business success, this month we will continue to examine the commonalities between feasibility studies and optimization. Raising awareness about these similarities widens perspectives about optimization and overlooked opportunities to maximize ROI over LOM.

When a deposit is identified by geologists, core samples and satellite imaging help define the properties, shape and outer boundaries of the orebody. If the initial data looks promising, a feasibility study is performed by a cross-functional team to determine if a deposit can be economically mined. Feasibility data is all about “discovery”… a first time look at mining potential and earnings potential of an orebody. Some feasibility numbers (ore grades, orebody dimensions, depth of overburden, etc.) define limits, maximums, minimums and future possibilities… what has been discovered. A feasibility study  summarizes these learnings and presents different operating scenarios so executives can make a decision about moving forward and making a significant investment.

Numbers defining orebody characteristics tend to remain fixed as time passes, but they can change if new information about the orebody is discovered (satellite imaging, core drilling, etc.). New boundaries for mineable ore change the three-dimensional shape of the mapped orebody. This kind of discovery is viewed as a good thing because it is linked to new opportunities for production and profit (expansions, pushbacks, etc.) at a developed property.

“Discovery” and Optimization

Similar to feasibility data, optimization data serves a specific purpose. An optimization dataset reveals hidden losses and growth opportunities so management can “discover” them and take action to convert them to profit, often with no investment required. Actual and budget numbers do not contain information that will flag these hidden losses and opportunities. Likewise, improvement initiatives that build on actual performance will not reveal these losses and opportunities. Only a dataset that reflects what is possible to achieve empowers leaders to “discover” hidden operating and financial potential and make decisions to chase it.

Optimization “limits” may change over time as more is learned about the capabilities of assets, people and the organization AND as invisible barriers are revealed and removed. When a barrier to optimization is removed, other barriers that were cloaked by that barrier may be discovered. For optimization to deliver maximum results and be sustained for the long term, barrier removal must be an integral partNof every optimization initiative.

Only people with management responsibilities can remove optimization barriers in an organization…executives, leadership teams and management teams. Are your leaders armed with the tools and skills they need to remove your barriers and manage your process of discovery?

Thought for the month: If you understand what’s missing and take action to remove barriers that are holding you back, you can be confident that you are not just “getting better”… you are “getting it all”!


Kay Sever is an Expert on Achieving “Best Possible” Results. Kay helps executive and management teams tap their hidden profit potential and reach their optimization goals. Kay has developed a LIVESTREAM management training system for Optimization Management called MiningOpportunity – NO TRAVEL REQUIRED. See MiningOpportunity.com for her contact information and training information.

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Kay Sever Author
P.O. Box 337 Gilbert, AZ USA 85299-0337

Kay has worked side by side with corporate and production sites in a management/leadership/consulting role for 35+ years. She helps management teams improve performance, profit, culture and change, but does it in a way that connects people and the corporate culture to their hidden potential. Kay helps companies move “beyond improvement” to a state of “sustained optimization”. With her guidance and the MiningOpportunity system, management teams can measure the losses caused by weaknesses in their current culture, shift to a Loss Reduction Culture to reduce the losses, and “manage” the gains from the new culture as a second income stream.