Innovation and operational excellence

Innovation and operational excellence

It takes much more than a healthy balance sheet for a business to thrive. Michael Donald, co-founder of Halo Business Consulting, discusses how to optimize resources and efficiencies, encourage and implement organizational change, and create a culture that accelerates innovation.

Athletes who adopt a mentality of driving continuous improvement by setting goals, analyzing performance and implementing and measuring improvement are generally the sportspeople who dominate their discipline over many years.

Achievement in business often follows a similar path, and success in the hospitality industry is no exception. Creating a culture that continuously challenges itself to do better, effectively communicating goals and strategies, empowering employees to try new things and supporting them as they grow is integral to innovation.

Why now?
Innovation is, and always has been, a huge factor in success; however, the art of applying innovation to achieve specific goals and complete tasks is much newer. There are four main reasons why companies look to innovation to solve specific challenges.
• Revenue generation
• Cost reduction
• Drive employee engagement
• Increase customer satisfaction
In an industry that has experienced a huge downturn in occupancy over the past two years, a sector that is seeing huge increases in energy costs and inflation on supplies, facing a recruitment and retention crisis, all while adapting to the biggest shift in the way we live and work in our lifetime, it is no wonder that innovation and operational excellence are at the top of the agenda for many organizations.
Innovation is about communicating values, both in what you say and what you do. It is about building a culture that encourages a team to challenge existing processes in an environment that welcomes the opportunity to act on feedback and try new things.

Building a culture of innovation
The best time to start building a culture of innovation in your business is the day you start. If you have yet to do this, then the second-best time is today.

1. Clear communication
Make sure that all of your lines of communication with employees are aligned and consistent.

2. Values
Company values should resonate and be aligned with those of your employees. They should see that the actions of leaders match their words, feel that their ideas are valued, welcomed and acted upon.

3. Daily routine
An innovative culture should naturally generate bursts of energy and enthusiasm within your team. This energy can be easily wasted if not celebrated. Include daily wins and recent data during team briefings, and share feedback, promoting an open forum for sharing thoughts and capturing ideas. Assign roles and responsibilities to all team members so that they feel invested.

4. Infrastructure
Empower your team to champion innovation across your business. Give them the tools and the time to gather data and feedback from internal and external customers and to prioritize opportunities. Support them to find root causes and suggest solutions, and trust them to implement plans with timelines and set review stages rather than micromanaging and looking for immediate change. Encourage everyone in your organization to share their thoughts and feedback. Openly share this data, be transparent as you review progress, always seek to improve the process and use data to support your decisions.

5. Learn from others
In 2001, when the hospitality operator formerly known as Starwood Hotels & Resorts embraced Six Sigma to drive its quality improvement strategy, it was the first hospitality company to do so. It wasn’t, however, the first company to do this. Starwood Hotels & Resorts was simply adopting an initiative that had been heavily geared toward the manufacturing industry in companies such as Motorola and General Electric, adapting it to suit its business model. This injected the organization with a culture of innovation.
Great ideas can come from anywhere but are simply the starting point. These ideas must be honed and tailored to your business before evolving into something really unique and innovative.

6. Collaborations
We have spoken about how important it is that employees share the same values as the business they work for. The same rule applies to external partners, whether this it through brand collaboration or working with suppliers or consultants. In addition, an innovative partner can often inspire ideas and processes that can completely reimagine the way you do business and fasttrack your work culture transformation.

Michael Donald,
co-founder of Halo Business Consulting
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