Optimization and Organizational Dynamics: The Year in Review

SOURCE: Kay Sever | December 1, 2023

In 2023 I introduced the term “organizational dynamics” as a key factor in optimization success. In the engineering, space and physics world, dynamics is defined as the science of the motion of bodies and the action of forces in producing or changing their motion. If we apply this definition to business, “bodies” are individuals or groups in a company and dynamics refers to how these individuals or groups act, react and interact in the workplace.

Over the past 11 months we explored the dynamics linked to optimization and what can happen if the organization is not considered when you pursue “best possible” performance. It was a journey based on real case studies, in-the-field observations about actions and reactions, and millions of dollars that either slipped away or were captured. I hope you gained a new perspective about management’s direct impact on optimization success and sustainability. 

The following paragraphs by month summarize some of the organizational factors in the “optimization realm” that are never considered or discussed by executives or management teams. Please feel free to access each article in its entirety on the Aggregates and Mining Today website to learn more.    

JANUARY – We discussed why “organizational dynamics” are overlooked when pursuing optimization. Some of the reasons relate to 1) traditional teachings about optimization processes, 2) equipment vendors, 3) a lack of organizational data for losses that reduce equipment ROI, and 4) a mismatch between the financial system and optimization data requirements.  

FEBRUARY – We reviewed the attributes of a company with strong organizational dynamics, reviewed a case study about how weak organizational dynamics affected management team effectiveness and credibility. We outlined how weak management responses “trickled-down” into the corporate culture, making future success with improvement and/or optimization more difficult. 

MARCH – We revealed sources for organizational strengths and weaknesses and introduced the term “management subculture” as the primary source. We listed three things that come from the management subculture and how they impact management effectiveness and organizational dynamics. We expanded on last month’s case study and showed how a weak management subculture caused a management team to unintentionally “opt out” of achieving optimization.   

APRIL – We gained new insights on why a management team would choose to “opt out” of achieving “best possible” performance. By drilling down further into last month’s case study, we discovered that this choice was linked to sub-choices like 1) what management decides to protect, 2) failure to acknowledge mistakes, and 3) how management defines winning and losing.       

MAY – We expanded on management’s definitions of winning and losing and the choices made because of those definitions. We compared the definition of winning in a weak management subculture to the definition of winning in a strong management subculture and how only “WIN-WIN” choices (i.e., a WIN for the organization and a WIN for management) are aligned with optimization goals. Only WIN-WIN choices will deliver millions of dollars of extra profit.   

JUNE – This is the first article in a 5-Part series about Organization Charts and “Interdepartmental Touchpoints” as factors in optimization success. In Part 1, we covered an Organization Chart’s basic design characteristics that help management teams connect with their organizations, and then revealed the invisible weakness that can cause millions of dollars of unmeasured losses annually. You also learned about Interdepartmental Touchpoints and why they are an “expensive void” in management oversight and why this void is a barrier to achieving optimization.   

JULY – This is the second article in a 5-Part series about Organization Charts and “Interdepartmental Touchpoints” as factors in optimization success. In Part 2 we listed 10 characteristics of “Interdepartmental Touchpoints”, why traditional management practices overlook the existence of these touchpoints, and what happens to profit and the organization as a result. Lastly we talked about why these touchpoints CANNOT be overlooked or ignored if you are serious about optimizing performance.     

AUGUST – This is the third article in a 5-Part series about Organization Charts and “Interdepartmental Touchpoints” as factors in optimization success. In Part 3 we expanded on why management’s lack of awareness about “Interdepartmental Touchpoints” can cause material losses that are not tracked or reported. We reviewed a case study involving procurement and a producing operation. This success story scenario illustrates how touchpoints are linked to performance and optimization, and describes how the two groups worked together to stop the touchpoint losses.  

SEPTEMBER – This is the fourth article in a 5-Part series about Organization Charts and “Interdepartmental Touchpoints” as factors in optimization success. In Part 4 of this series we introduced data that can be linked to Interdepartmental touchpoints and how that data can be used to strengthen the dynamics at touchpoints. A second case study is presented… a success story that introduces the term “Process Orientation”, a strategy I have often used with my clients to build strong department relationships at touchpoints.  

OCTOBER – This is the fifth article in a 5-Part series about Organization Charts and “Interdepartmental Touchpoints” as factors in optimization success. In Part 5 of this series we talk about expansions and how they are affected by weak interdepartmental touchpoints. Another case study is discussed… one where $50,000,000 allocated for expansion capital was designated for the wrong location in the production value stream due to a lack of optimization data at value stream touchpoints. The capital was moved to the real bottleneck when data linked to optimization was presented to the executive team (days before orders were placed for new equipment that would have been installed at the wrong value stream location…a very expensive management mistake narrowly avoided).    

NOVEMBER – I outlined what I call the traditional four-step “Plug and Play” optimization process and formula used by companies all over the world. In this article we discussed the weaknesses of this process, including its narrow scope that omits the organization AND the management system/team/subculture from the optimization process. We talked about the impact of these omissions and what they mean to your optimization success and sustainability.     

Thought for the year – 2023: There is an astounding lack of management awareness about the links between their organizations, their management systems and their goals for optimization. Executives and management teams that have this awareness are empowered to maximize optimization ROI and help their people accomplish great things!      

IN CLOSING: We cannot end this article without introducing our theme for 2024. Of course it will again involve your success with optimization. The theme for 2024 is: Renaissance Thinking and Optimization Success. We will be connecting history with today’s processes for optimization and pushing the boundaries on management’s ability to establish and sustain an optimization culture. I hope you join me as we explore new territories that will expand your thinking about what it means to “be the best” in your industry and “achieve your best performance” at your site or company. 

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays… can’t wait to start down this path with you in 2024!         

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.