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7 Trends for 2021 to Drive Operational Excellence

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As we close out a difficult and unpredictable 2020, it seems a bit risky to make any predictions about 2021. That said, I believe 2021 will be a year of applying the past year’s lessons learned. Here are a few trends to keep an eye on to drive operational performance.

  • Emphasis on leadership. From the boardroom to the assembly line, the trust and leadership dynamics that were tested over 2020 will build the foundation to drive success. Investments will be made to provide the training and tools to develop leaders across the organization.
  • Focus on individual responsibility. Organizations were forced to ask their employees to take on more responsibility in managing the 2020 pandemic. Rather than retracting that responsibility in 2021, industry leaders will continue to extend that reliance on the frontline to accelerate performance.
  • Building more diverse project teams. A concerted effort to build teams that incorporate more diverse backgrounds and perspectives will be a priority and an important part of driving sustainable performance improvements.
  • Integrating data from many sources. While many have adopted an IoT infrastructure and are collecting streams of data, few have been able to harness the intelligence that can only come from aligning data for different sources to deliver actionable insights.
  • Broader adoption of technology at the frontline. 2020 taught us about the importance of the individuals at the frontline. Leading companies will accelerate their investment to empower frontline workers with a variety of technologies.
  • Attention on sustaining improvements. Attention will be on creating value that is sustainable over time. Investments to improve people, processes, and products will be evaluated on their ability to impact operational performance over an extended period of time. More attention will be paid to avoid regression to past standards.
  • It’s about small improvements and big breakthroughs. In a recent email from Elon Musk, he asked everyone at Tesla to drive savings of all sizes across the organization. The biggest opportunities are the savings of 20 cents here and 20 cents there to build the success of the company according to Musk. Industrial leaders across the globe will continue to watch their costs, should take heed and apply that mindset in the coming year.

2021 will be another year for learning and adapting to unprecedented circumstances. For those that can build on the experiences of 2020 and be open to new information, perspectives, and technologies, next year will be filled with opportunities.

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