Operations: What's trending in 2023?
Last year saw the outbreak of war, a cost of living crisis, and an unsteady global economy - meaning people and businesses alike are going into 2023 with caution.
The macro trend of ‘per head productivity’ will also apply to organisations (growing, building, creating a brand-new business from the ground up) this year; because lots of startups and scaleups across the UK - and the globe - are going to have less money this year, and inevitably will want to do more with less.
Andrew Ormerod, Tech Nation’s Operations Coach Specialist says the most human way to do this is by increasing agency across your organisation and looking for bottlenecks (focussing on the theory of constraints).
So, what are the organisational themes we may see more of this year from businesses and their leaders?
Organisations now more than ever understand that the previous notion ‘growth of anything at any cost’ is no longer viable, meaning startups and scaleups need to be smart with the business decisions they make surrounding growth initiatives.
Andrew says: “B Corps and other movements towards more responsible leadership in the for profit sector, and the emergence of more mission-led businesses, is an important trend. We do not need to see more businesses creating shareholder value through huge externalities.”
Tech Nation has its own sustainability report offering insight into what businesses are doing to incorporate sustainable practices. Andrew believes responsible leadership - as well as AI alignment - should be a concern for organisations this year.
There is often a lot of focus on a scarcity of hard technical skills (specific programming languages or R&D capabilities for example). Although they are extremely important to innovation, soft skills can sometimes be left behind in the pecking order.
Andrew says: “There are generalised skills which are as important in business as technical expertise and which are typically not being taught well or early enough. Like teamwork skills - how to think together, how to manage work as a group in a responsive way.
“Organisations have to find a way to do the work of teaching people how to communicate with, and relate to, each other in a mature way. The less energy you lose to interpersonal friction, the more can go into creating value for your customers.”
We currently reside in a tricky economical period in the UK, and the UK needs to increase its per head productivity according to Andrew. And this situation makes Andrew think of the birth of ‘lean’.
He says: “In postwar Japan, many of the big manufacturing companies there became influenced by the work of W E Deming on Total Quality Management - and embraced it fully, leading to the global success of companies like Toyota.
“The ideas that they embraced underlie what we now call lean or agile - and they are still basically the most effective way to run companies that anybody has yet come up with - and they are still poorly understood and little implemented beyond a surface level.”
In other words, this year, businesses will need to streamline their processes and work towards a leaner existence if they want to get ahead of the curve and do more with less.