Back from the Swiss conference “Piloting my business with success, the key factors to perform”…

This is a hot topic for all of us, of course, we would like to see the business we are in to perform successfully. With an issue as old as businesses themselves, Raiffeisen has invited four business owners and leaders to discuss this subject in the beautiful SwissTech Convention Center of the prestigious EPFL School in Lausanne.

The crowd is already getting a glimpse of what is to follow: everyone in a formal blue suit and aged 40 or more, and two questions are immediately popping up:

  1. Where are the women?
  2. Where are the startup owners?

As an intro around 20 teenagers have been interviewed how they see the job of 2020. OMG, I was close to falling out of my comfortable conference chair!

Their views were so traditional: “nobody likes to work”, “a boss yes but only one!” , “I want to work 100%, the flex time is only for the elderly” are just a few shocking sentences that came out.

The samples of interviewers were clearly not representative. I would advise the marketing agency to take a few stats classes before choosing the profiles (contact me if you need a class btw 😉 … and here again only interviewing 3 girls. Aren’t we in a world where we have 50,4% of women vs. 49,6% men? Where is my open-minded innovative Switzerland who just had an overall country strike for women’s rights last June?

The Key factors to perform: equality

Equality is not a special right – 14th of June 2019 Women strike Switzerland

What about women leaders?

Thanks to Tibère Adler, co-founder of the new media, who made his speech just after the video, reminding us of three points which I also believe are really important:

  1. Three women out of 20 teenagers were interviewed, where is women’s equality here?
  2. “Entrepreneur”, a word never mentioned by the interviewees.
  3. Artificial Intelligence that will change our jobs in the near future.

The first point was back to the debate with Aurore Amaudruz, Marc-Andre Cornu, Valérie Bedron and Tibère Adler, moderated with brio by the journalist Olivier Dominik. We – the audience- were able to ask questions LIVE during this debate, and the question of women in leadership positions came often.

Aurore reminded us that being a woman means needing much more time in the beginning to gain trust. People in our Swiss culture do not take women as seriously as men. In my career that always happened when I started a new job: it took a few days to a couple of months (depending on the colleagues you have in front of you) to see you as a leader and not “just” as a woman.

Concerning the question of quotas: I believe it is important to support the development of women leaders, ensuring obviously that the performance follows. Point taken by the panel but what is the next move? Floating in the air …it will be interesting to see the evolution of this situation by the next Raiffeisen congress in 2021.

Equality is one of the key factors to perform in your business

What are the basics key factors to perform successfully?

Back to the point of the performance: I was really interested in seeing the correlation of the business owner’s answers and operational excellence.


Simply because Operational Excellence (also called Lean or TPM or TQM) is enabling the success of a business through the empowerment of its employees. Their answers are fully aligned with the basics of the Operational Excellence program that I am invested in:

  • Having the right organization and structure is the first key factor to perform, i.e. having the right person in the right position, and the proper communication platforms.

“Waking up in the morning and seeing my family is a blast” underlined Aurore.

  • Shaping the vision first. To be engaged, we need an aligned common purpose and shared values, mentioned Valérie. In consequence, we are making sure that we all are working toward the same goals.
  • Building trust, in other word I call it Servant Leadership. To succeed nowadays we must move from traditional leadership to servant leadership. A Servant Leader determines how big the circle of safety is, thus creating an environment of TRUST:

I invite you to have a look at if you would like to know a bit more about Operational Excellence and feel free to join the I♥OPEX community.

What are the key factors to perform as a happy business?

There are three common key factors for a business to be happy (yes the word happy was deliberately chosen) according to Tibère:

1- A happy business is triggering unexpected gatherings with insightful people.

Personal comment: Join the I♥OPEX community to meet insightful people, share and shape the future of OPEX

2- A happy business is developing competencies of its employees in new fields too.

Personal comment: Training & Education is becoming today THE first pillar in Operational Excellence to develop, especially in this disruptive environment. Do not fear AI, start educating yourself and your team now.

3- A happy business is fair between the time an employee contributes to the business and her/his personal time leading to flexible opportunities.

Personal comment: we see that IKIGAI(*) of each employee has to be taken into account in our business model, and that is what is so progressive in my operational excellence approach.

(*) The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (生き) meaning “life; alive” and kai (甲斐) meaning “(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit” to arrive at “a reason for living; a meaning for life; what makes life worth living; a raison d’etre”

Happy and fruitful business has never been so human, as Mathieu Jaton, the CEO of the Montreux Jazz Festival, reminds us.

Mathieu continues the Claude Nobs mindset, that values human relationship over money. Among the historical musical moments of the festival, I am choosing the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water”.

This song took inspiration from a fire in the Casino at Montreux, Switzerland on December 4, 1971. The band was going to start recording their Machine Head album there right after a Frank Zappa concert, but someone fired a flare gun at the ceiling during Zappa’s show, which set the place on fire. Deep Purple watched the blaze from a nearby restaurant, and when the fire died down, a layer of smoke had covered Lake Geneva, which the casino overlooked. This image gave bass player Roger Glover the idea for a song title: “Smoke On The Water,”

Take a break, and enjoy:

I want to thank Vindou Duc, my partner in crime for the conference as well as Olivier Dominik who rocked it despite the conservative flair.

Marie-Philippe Vanheems

Founder of I LOVE OPEX – Operational Excellence is a Passion

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