Have you ever worked for a company that said one thing and did something else? Sometimes the gap between what is said and what is done is not as obvious as one might think, nor is the reason why the discrepancy exists to begin with.
Operational integrity defined
There are a few different, albeit quite similar, definitions used by companies to describe what operational integrity really is. For the purposes of this article we'll use the definition that Deloitte uses because it's clear, concise, and quite thorough.
Operational Integrity - Having systems, processes, and people that do what they are supposed to do - effectively, accurately, reliably, and securely - with the resilience to withstand threats and bounce back quickly from problems, no matter how severe. Deloitte US
The main take away here is that the systems, process, and people are doing what they are supposed to. The processes that make up a system set the expectations and the people practice what they preach. In order for this to occur the systems must be designed in a such a manner that processes are able to function in conjunction with one another. In any business there will be competing processes (maintenance department trying to fix equipment as quickly as possible and purchasing trying to secure the most value for the replace parts) and the if the processes don't account for the intent of the other processes within the system then something has to give, one process must not be followed to allow another one to be worked.
Additionally, the processes must allow the workforce to use them. Complex and cumbersome process are rarely followed as designed with personnel finding 'workarounds' to get the job done. By and large people go to work to do a good job and when this doesn't happen it is rarely because a worker purposely strayed from established processes (the stated or actual).
Complex and cumbersome processes are rarely followed as designed with personnel finding 'workarounds' to get the job done.
Stated vs actual expectations
To illustrate how what we say (systems and processes) must align with the practices of our people in order to achieve operational integrity let's take a look a recent Instagram post by The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. Yes that's right, we're going to use the former WWE heavy weight champion and current star of the Hollywood blockbuster Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw to explain the difference between stated and actual expectations.
It's no secret that Mr. Johnson works hard, his days start around 4:00 am with a run, and he has seen a lot of success as a result of this superhuman work ethic. He sets up his system of success through routinely posting on his Instagram account about exercise and healthy habits. A search online and you can quickly find workout programs to "be like the Rock". Last week however Dwayne ended a post with the hashtag #teamnosleep. What this can be seen as is an endorsement of late nights and early mornings, which is not in alignment with living a healthy lifestyle. It's not hard to imagine that this impromptu endorsement of sleepless nights in favor of working longer hours is what younger followers will latch on to instead of the specific advice given by Johnson.
Worth more than words
Ok, so maybe using The Rocks Instagram posts isn't exactly fair to him, but think about operational integrity this way. A company who gives bonus's and praise for equipment up-time, improved production numbers, and 'going that extra mile' when co-workers know a company policy had to be bent (or broken) to do so, will say more for what the work expectations are then the written processes ever will. Actions (a.k.a repeated behavior) will always say more then any policy or procedure.
Tying it all together
Operational integrity is realized when there is alignment between what the workforce does, the processes that direct those behaviors, and the systems in which the processes support/create. If any of the three fall out of alignment it is only a matter of time before the threats and problems noted in Deloitte's definition of operational integrity are not managed appropriately and an operational breakdown becomes the reality.
Aside from compensation misalignment, what do you see as the biggest gap in aligning systems, processes, and workforce behavior?
What methods of assuring that there is alignment between systems, processes and people exist in your place of work?