3 Data-Driven Strategies to Improve Operational Efficiency

Discover 3 data-driven strategies that two leaders used to improve operational efficiency and promote growth and minimize spending at their organization.

The velocity and frequency of change today are difficult to process. Over the last few years, in particular, we’ve had front-row seats to watch static business systems bend and break like never before. We’ve also learned that those systems simply don’t allow for proactive and flexible decision-making or execution. 

To operate more efficiently and effectively throughout any economic landscape, you must reimagine how your team gets work done. That’s exactly what Highmark Health did when it established a subsidiary called Lumevity. We spoke with Richard Clarke, Chief Analytics Officer of Highmark Health, and Marcus Johnson, Managing Director of Lumevity, in a webinar about how Highmark Health achieved data-driven growth by scaling a data management program and Lumevity to maximize operational efficiency

3 Data-Driven Strategies to Improve Operational Efficiency

Here are three data-driven strategies they used to drive operational efficiency and growth in the past, and remain major components of their current playbooks. 

1.  Data-driven strategy: Use an agile approach to get work done. 

Many companies reacted to COVID-19 with agility because they had to. For example, organizations were forced to accelerate digital transformations, flex and adapt their strategic planning cycles, and move to direct-to-consumer operating models. 

Rather than using agility as a reactive measure, Richard and Marcus say the key to long-term success at Highmark Health is their ability to lock in agility from both process and cultural standpoints. Rather than using agility on an as-needed basis, Highmark Health uses agility as a proactive and always-on capability. 

Marcus encourages you to think about it this way: “You can spend six months looking for the perfect solution or strategy, or you can spend six months getting work done and iterating as you go.” The latter means you’ll be moving a couple of steps forward every day. Even if those steps need to be adjusted tomorrow, you’re still making progress and learning valuable lessons today. That’s agility in action.  

Through a consistent agile approach, Highmark Health benefits from improved flexibility, the ability to scale at speed, and resilience against external dynamics (including the effects of the global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, record-high inflation, a looming recession, and more).

2. Data-driven strategy: Prioritize change management. 

To successfully drive change at scale, you must first look at your culture — then, tailor your new program accordingly. For example, Marcus says that analysis and understanding of Highmark’s culture gave the team insight into the need for a bottom-up approach to deploying their new program. Within the organization, a top-down program would never have worked — an effective path forward would require change beginning at the business-unit level.

Another change management technique that proved valuable was storytelling. Through storytelling, business unit leaders were able to garner excitement about the change that was to come among the individuals within those business units. Specifically, business unit leaders provided their teams with relevant program specifics and use cases. They also explained how individuals within each unit would benefit from the change such as how it would enable them to do their jobs better and more efficiently. 

The use of storytelling as a change management strategy at Highmark led to an organization-wide understanding of the new program. Without this understanding, it would have been impossible for Highmark to drive adoption and change the workflows and behaviors within the business units — meaning the program would have never succeeded. 

3. Data-driven strategy: Get and share quick wins. 

Identifying some quick wins that you know are achievable and sharing the results with your key stakeholders at the start of any new program is critical to your ability to get buy-in and ultimately scale. Marcus says two types of quick wins are necessary. 

Financial and Operational Win

The executive team is inevitably going to look for impact in terms of financial and operational performance. So when rolling out a new program, think about the ways you can quickly achieve and share these business outcomes. Show tangible results and their financial and/or operational impact on the business. This will show the executive team that investing in and prioritizing the program’s success across the organization is in their best interest. 

Employee Satisfaction Win

In addition to appealing to the executive team, you need to win the hearts and minds of the individuals within the business units/your employees who are actually executing the work. Without their buy-in, you won’t have the engagement necessary for a successful program. 

Unlike the executive leadership quick win, an employee satisfaction quick win doesn’t necessarily need to contribute to business or operational metrics. What it does need to do is make the lives of those executing work easier and better. As a result, you’ll gain fans and champions internally who want to use your program and will therefore drive continuous improvement.

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