Opinion: When You Don’t Know That You Don’t Know

By Arosha Jayasundera

To be in a state of bliss is great, when you happily chug along at your own pace. But how long can it last? In the absence of benchmarks, we can imagine that we are doing just fine. Perhaps this is an affliction which affects many of the South Asian countries. Certainly it applies to many companies in Sri Lanka. If not, I challenge those companies to prove that it is not the case.

Consider your working environment – is it structured, measurable, planned, uneventful, clockwork in nature and meeting the customer’s expectations at least 70% of the time? If not, you may fall in the category of the headline above. A step in the right direction is “When you KNOW that you DON’T know…”

Daily News recently carried an article that for the Sri Lankan State Owned Enterprises  – KPI’s ( Key Performance Indicators) were “greek ” for many of them. This means they had never come across them and did not know how to formulate them either. For all these years, they had simply been chugging along in financial bliss ( in debt)  and without complying with any standards as far as the customer was concerned.

Although one cannot say, this applies to this extent for private companies, one can say many are totally unaware of how processes affect their quality, marketing, and market share so much and can make so much difference to their profitability.

optimization excellence

How many companies are aware of the importance of ISO 15504? This categorizes processes into 5 levels from unpredictable and poorly controlled to managed and optimised. Although this was initially formulated for the IT sector, it is very applicable to any and all processes in an organisation.

To move from Level 1 to Level 5 requires a number of strategies including measuring, value stream mapping, identifying root causes for errors and delays, identifying ” process waste” etc. These are special techniques that are NOT taught in marketing, finance, and frequently not in operations either. In fact they fall within Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen, Value Stream Mapping etc.

There are significant gains for companies who do decide to commence on this journey, either through training their staff  or using external consultants to identify critical processes and products/services.

( — Arosha Jayasundera is a specialist in service excellence and is the founder of the Asian Institute of Excellence www.asianiexcellence.com –)