Stabilize, Stretch and Shape

Stabilize, Stretch & Shape

Leadership insights: 3 steps to operational excellence

There are three stages of strategic service capabilities I use when building high performing teams and transforming customer experiences. The premise behind this is that any experience you are accountable for is at it’s best when you are answering customer's questions even before they ask. Or as my father would say “When you’ve finished painting a room, tidy it, hoover it, clean it.  It’s the room they want not the paint on the wall.”  I’ve developed and continuously refined these capabilities based on my experiences of leading and transforming business operations and technology divisions in national and global banks. Let me know what works for you.


First and foremost,  working with the team to identify and understand the underlying purpose, capability, and capacity of the team and business you are leading is a must. You can achieve this by walking the end to end processes, meeting staff, customers, and stakeholders to understand their current needs and expectations. This knowledge will help you prioritize what is essential and also identify the services that matter most.  Setting the team up with new ways of working (Huddles, Metrics, Continuous Improvement, Shared Best Practice, etc.) will enable the team to deliver the key services consistently and with quality. It's what's expected as BAU. Providing stability of service builds confidence and trust. These are crucial ingredients to gain the support you’ll need to transform the experiences going forward.


In Formula One, drivers are at their best only when they have pushed the car to its limit around a track, knowing what it’s capable of and where it’s limitations are. As a leader, your role is to activate, test, and support the development of individuals, teams, and the services you provide. You know when you’ve accomplished this when you see evidence of the team proactively looking for new ways of doing things; when the status quo does not bound them; when they challenge the boundaries of people, process, and technology, and they love to learn.  It's when BAU isn't good enough anymore.


Perhaps unbeknownst to many, your Leadership style is inevitably a reflection of your personal values. These are the things important to you, deeply held convictions that guide you in your behaviours and decisions. Identifying your core values helps you refine your Leadership style, and what to address when you’re not feeling fulfilled.  When you're feeling fulfilled you excel. I’ve found that the drive to excel at whatever you’re doing is contagious. It motivates people around you and motivated people are driven to achieve beyond expectations. You know when you’ve achieved it when your team is passionate about their work and are living the values that you’ve created together.  It's when your BAU is what other people call Excellence.

Introducing Stabilize, Stretch, and Shape into operational challenges can help provide a structured path to operational excellence. Don't tolerate just delivering BAU - transform it into Excellence every time.