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The COO—An Enigma to Many | Venture Philanthropy Partners
When contemplating the COO role, it’s important to focus on substance over form. Specifically, the title of COO (the form) is much less important than an organization coming to grips with its need for effective operational management—that is, the management capacity (people, systems, and know-how) that allows an organization to ensure that its “trains run on time” (the substance). And, the colloquialism of the “trains running on time” means that things run effectively and efficiently, within budget, and with the information to know in a timely manner when they are (or aren’t) doing so.

But, an important caveat for good operational management comes from a favorite Druckerism: “It is more important to do the right thing, than to do things right.” I’d prefer a nonprofit producing meaningful, lasting outcomes for children and families that is an operational disaster to one that is “well-managed”, but having only incremental benefit in helping those they serve.

Effective operations must yield improved results. In business, this is measured in profits, market share, low employee turnover, and satisfied clients.... operational effectiveness? Well-written job descriptions, elaborate policies and procedures, human resource management guidelines and handbooks, expensive software systems, and a score of other things, in all honesty, have little to do with it. These are merely symbols, not the essence of good operations. If you have a clear vision of your work that is commonly shared, if people know what to do, if they care deeply and are well-trained and equipped for their work, if they feel respected and heard, if there is good internal communication, if programs are of high quality, if leaders demonstrate a continual need for the organization and those in it to improve, and if you establish a rigor and integrity in how all of this is managed by using timely, factual information and managerial common sense—then you can have “good operations.”
COO  executive_management  operations  Peter_Drucker  on-time 
july 2014 by jerryking
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