I had the privilege of working with Dieter Legat on a consulting engagement in his native Switzerland and was very impressed by his level of business knowledge, especially as it relates to helping operations achieve excellence. Now he has distilled a good part of that expertise into a book, Surf the Waves of Opportunity: Lead your business to operational excellence with five things done right. It’s full of stories, charts, and solid advice that can take leaders through his 5-Right process on the path to greater operational excellence, a must for any business in this dynamic and highly competitive world.

There are lots of business books out there, so why this one?

So many business books I read seem to have a lot of superficial content. I often read two or three chapters of a business book and put it down because it doesn’t seem like there is anything new. This book is different (although I’m not leading a company, I am very interested in the mechanics of innovation and operational excellence). It explains both the whys and the how-to’s in sufficient detail, and most of the tools required are made available at no charge on the book’s web site. There’s even a software package to help with the execution.

Legat says, “For success in operational leadership, you must do five things right … in a never-ending cycle of agile leadership:

  • One: Set the right operational goals to establish the line on which you want to surf your wave. You only need one: contribution margin.
  • Two: Plan. Build your surfboard. Design the right plan: Focus it on resolving constraints. Write it down on one single page.
  • Three: Execute. Surf your wave. Follow the goal to deliver the obligations outlined in your operational plan.
  • Four: Check. Review progress against your goals and execution of your operational plan. Go back to planning if the operational plans need to be adjusted.
  • Five: Add the value required from operational leaders. Lead your Plan-Execute-Check cycle to spin faster than your competitors. Institutionalize the culture of operational excellence.

Operational leadership is all about surfing monster waves of opportunity. It strains us to our limits. Yet it is the most fascinating and rewarding task in business management.”

He also discussed the many pitfalls on the way to operational excellence and how to avoid them.

While the process he outlines is fairly straightforward, the proper execution is a lot of hard work on the part of the leadership team. If operational excellence is your goal, the investment will pay off. It’s a guide book to changing the culture of an organization – not an easy task – but if you want your organization to grow and prosper, one well worth investigating.