Warning an obsession on operational efficiency can lead you to anorexia vs. being competitive

We have all been frustrated by a bean counter approach that focus on the numbers.  Where a short term cost reduction is viewed as a win, even though your long term health suffers.

An example of a potential obsession on a data center efficiency number is PUE.  PUE is often used as identifying a green data center, but PUE is only one number and not the end goal.

The Phoenix Principle has a guest blog post that touches on the Yin and Yang of Operational Excellence.

The Yin & Yang of Operational Excellence & Innovation

Efficiency is a good thing, taken in moderation. The same with focus. It is good management hygiene to pay attention to what you’re doing and try to do it efficiently. This helps build a competitive cost structure and a results-based culture. From an operations standpoint that means that the use of an occasional stopwatch or its modern day equivalents in order to eliminate wasted effort and speed workflows makes perfect sense. Frederick Taylor made the great contribution in 1911 of helping companies recognize that labor is a controllable cost that can be managed, but he taught that a narrow focus on the optimization of each operation and repetition of the “best practice” was the key to success. He missed the point (among others) that it is really the improvement of the process as a whole that changes the game. It took Toyota and Yamaha and other Japanese companies to teach the world that lesson 70 years later – leading to today’s six sigma, lean, and time compression concepts.

One of the points well made is an obsession that can occur when management focuses on efficiency as the end.

The pursuit (often obsession) of operational excellence becomes an end unto itself and gets disconnected from the mission of generating growth and creating value.

How many companies are limited by its IT group and data center capacity?

The end game is not to get lean and agile, but rather to get lean and agile so that you can compete more effectively – leveraging these capabilities to go to market in innovative new ways, to compete in new markets, and ultimately to create new markets.

Which is part of why cloud computing solutions like AWS are successful as companies can side step the corporate IT/data center group as they don't want to incur any new costs.

Be careful trying to be too efficient and miss the focus on supporting the business.

Do you have an accurate image of yourself?