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What is Operational Excellence – Part I

The goal of the Operational Excellence is improving company’s profitability, competitiveness, and complete customer satisfaction. It is the ultimate goal to achieve continuous improvement.

Operational Excellence definition

Operational Excellence is a business and culture mindset focused on the ability to execute a process, activity, or task in an effective and efficient manner. It is about doing things better, easier, faster, safer, at a lower cost, and with the participation and involvement of all the components of the company.

Main principles of Operational Excellence

The Shingo Model of Operational Excellence was used by Toyota Motor Company.

Shigeo Shingo was an industrial organization engineer, recognized as one of the creators of the Lean Manufacturing System at Toyota, which today has become the international reference model for excellence in operations. Although he was never employed by Toyota, he worked closely with them, supporting Taiichi Ohno.

The Shingo model was born from the need to express in a visual image the principles and vital elements for developing operational excellence in an organization.

According to Shigeo Shingo, principles are more powerful than rules within any organization.



Principles for the Operational Excellence according to Shingo 

  1. Respect for everyone
  2. Lead with humility
  3. Strive for perfection
  4. Ensure quality at the source
  5. Improve the flow and the system
  6. Embrace scientific thinking
  7. Focus on the process
  8. Think systemically
  9. Create constancy of purpose
  10. Create value for the customer

How to achieve Operational Excellence

There is a process to reach the Operational Excellence. This involves continuously looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of processes, and the elimination of all waste throughout the value chain. This can be done through Lean process mapping.

Five Key Elements of Operational Excellence:


Your vision serves as a clear roadmap that helps your team do the right work and weigh possible ideas. When facing a challenge, your vision helps you determine the right move.

This phase is fundamental; if the vision is not accurate, we will be focusing all the company’s efforts on the wrong direction, and this will be one of the biggest wastes.

Customer value (results)

The creation of real value is more than the generation of a few ideas, the essential thing is that they must be rooted in products or services that your customer needs. Without customers there is no business and without excellent business there are no customers. Everything you do, your processes, your people must revolve around the satisfaction of your internal and external customer. Determine what matters most to your customers and make sure that everything your team does is aimed at achieving that goal. This will ensure results and customer satisfaction.


A deep understanding of how things are done is fundamental to a powerful Operational Excellence strategy. The shop floor, the workplace, speaks to us and continuously transmits its strengths and weaknesses, but if we are not in the shop floor or workplace, and we are not willing to listen to it, we will never be aware of them, we do not visit the factory enough. In addition, we must distinguish between seeing and looking, many times we see the state of our process and we admit it as it is, by habit, we must learn to look and be critical and with our eyes always focused on improvement and elimination of waste. Today, there are great tools that help you to manage the shop floor. But we need to constantly asking for these questions:

  • What needs to be done to achieve the objectives?
  • Who is responsible for each section?
  • How should the different departments be aligned in achieving the strategy?

In summary, it is essential to analyze the processes to begin to reveal redundancies, reveal unnecessary tasks and waste, and identify areas for improvement.

Team culture

A thorough understanding of how your team must function to execute your vision is essential.

Proper man/position matching is a must.

The creation and maintenance of a capable and well-coordinated work team is fundamental to achieve Excellence in the Company, they are our Image in front of our Customers and our Suppliers, they are the ones who must train, help and motivate their collaborators to achieve Excellence, without them we will be alone in this challenge, and loneliness is a very bad companion.

Team members, when facing with a problem that they cannot solve alone, must know exactly who to turn to for help.

Tools and resources

To unfold your vision and deliver value, your team must have the right resources, means and tools.

Moreover, these resources, means and tools must always be updated to the changing market reality, technologies innovate, customer preferences change, and market factors change.

The continuous training of all the components of the company is fundamental.

With these five elements, your organization can begin to make more significant leaps towards Excellence.

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If enjoyed what you read, mlean can help you to reach operational excellence and help you to measure your success. Many factories all over the world are successfully using it. 

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