DuPont refers to Operational Excellence (OE) as "(...) an integrated management system (...) that drives business productivity through the application of proven practices and procedures in three key pillars: Resource Productivity, Capital Efficiency, Operations Risk Management".[i]

Chevron notes that OE "systematically manages workforce health and safety, process safety, (asset) reliability and integrity, the environment, security (assets and workforce), and all stakeholders in order to achieve objectives"[ii]

I like to think of OE as a state in which the level of business performance consistently meets the expectations of customers, shareholders, and employees. However, it's not just a result, it's also an operational strategy that supports the implementation of the company's competitive strategy.

Regardless of the competitive strategy chosen, the sector of activity or the organizational model, two fundamental elements are always present: processes and people. If the processes aren't effective and efficient and the people don't have the skills and motivation, then the business is unlikely to reach its potential.

There are several references that contribute to Operational Excellence, or better said, Organizational Excellence, such as the ISO standards[iii]the EFQM model[iv] or even the CMMI framework [v]. They all have something in common - the need to ensure robust processes and the commitment to continuous process improvement.

That's why, when asked how to get on the road to Operational Excellence, my answer tends to be: first, focus on improving the processes that are critical to the business. How? By creating an infrastructure for managing improvement initiatives and involving people as a way of boosting the success of the OE initiative. Perhaps the maturity of each organization puts it at a different starting point from partners and competitors, so I also suggest drawing up a self-diagnosis adjusted to the context of the organization based on four pillars:

Management - Does everyone in the organization understand what is really important?

Competence - Are the organization and its employees capable of achieving the vision?

Opportunity - Are the barriers to implementation being removed?

Motivation - Do people do it because they have to, or do they want to?

This diagnosis will certainly help establish the action plan that will guide the OE initiative.

Finally, for those who are already on this path, watch out for the warning signs that the initiative may be failing...

These and other topics will be covered in the Operational Excellence course starting in October!

See you there!


[i] A DuPont Integrate Systems Approach. Retrieved June 11, 2024 from


[ii] Operational Excellence.(s.d). Retrieved June 11, 2024 from


[iii] ISSO - International Organization for Standardization

[iv] EFQM - European Foundation for Quality Management

[v] CMMI - Capability Maturity Model Integration

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