Changing role of the COO

Changing role of the COO

Companies, whether in very competitive markets or in a leadership position in a new market, want to achieve operational excellence. The Institute for Operational Excellence defines it as “Each and every employee can see the flow of value to the customer, and fix that flow before it breaks down.” Implicit in this definition is the need to provide the products and services to customers that they want when they want them.

However maintaining operational excellence has become a lot more difficult in recent times with the continuing impact of the pandemic and the loss of an erstwhile reliable source of energy. Companies need to move fast and transform their strategies for excellence to address the vastly increased cost of energy for production and transport and the supply chain problems, with attendant shortages of materials, especially computer chips.

Changing strategy quickly with consequent changes to well known processes is disruptive and often unsettling for the people who have to change aspects of how they perform their roles. This disruption to operations, while necessary, comes on top of the increased turnover and elevated expectations of employees. Middle managers responsible for implementing operational changes are at the same time trying to deal with restlessness in their people who have grown used to working remotely or in more flexible ways. See this interesting article “This is why no one wants to be a middle manager anymore.”

In her Raconteur article, “What will the COO of the future look like?”, Christine Horton looks at the changing role of the COO who ultimately has to define operational strategy with the C-team and work with managers to ensure the strategy is implemented successfully. Horton quotes Liz Parnell, COO at Rackspace Technology, who sees the COO role changing,

“Now it’s about people and understanding the needs of employees as we navigate new hybrid-working styles. To a great extent, we are now ‘chief empathy officers’. People have always been a business’s most valuable asset, but the ability to listen to and understand the needs of employees has never been more important.”

“What will the COO of the future look like?”

Simon Nolan, senior partner at executive search firm Page Executive, also sees necessary adaptation in the role proposing “a successful COO is one who can move with the times and implement new skills needed for their business” because “The COO is the person who has to deliver on behalf of the customer and drive success.”

If you’re a COO looking to navigate this new landscape, having accurate and current data is vital. So, using a tool which collects data digitally, and in real time, alerting you to any emerging threats before they are reflected in your sales figures, can make all the difference. Tensense is an early warning system for your business. You can watch a short video here.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash