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RUNNING HEAD: Operational Barriers

B6029: Operations Management: Solutions to Business Challenges Module 1 Assignment 3 March 5th, 2014

Operational Barriers

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In this modern day and age, it is safe to assume anyone with a cell phone is familiar with the name Apple, a company with sales in excess of $164 billion and ranked as Number 1 on Forbes list of most Valuable Brands (Forbes, 2014). However, even with all its success and popularity as being one of the most innovative companies in existence, one of the primary concerns for the company is the lack of communication amongst its employees, specifically between the sales group and the administrative sector. This lack of communication is an example of an operational barrier for the Apple Corporation. An operational barrier can be identified as any area that hinders a business from truly achieving its mission while staying true to its vision. The same holds true for Apple Corporations lack of communication. According to Tim Cook, current CEO of Apple, one of the vision for Apple Corporation is to drive and encourage deep collaboration and crosspollination amongst its employees to promote innovation, which is one of its primary competitive advantage (Hull, 2012). However, the communication barrier between the sales and administrative staff is in direct contradiction to the companys vision. It is very crucial for companies to periodically take a step back and analyze how their day-today activities contribute in achieving its mission and vision statement. Any areas that are found in direct or indirect contradiction to the purpose of the organization can be categorized as an operational barrier. Examples of these barriers include, but are not limited to: 1) Operational Silos / Communication Barriers: This barrier occurs when there are forces in the organization that drive two of its departments or groups to work with little or no visibility of each other. Let us revisit our example of the Apple Corporation, where one of the primary reasons for their lack of communication is secrecy and security, which forces the administrative and the sales group to work in complete silos. The sales staff

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that interacts directly with customers is kept is dark about any potential new product launch to avoid any unwanted news leak. This leaves little or no time for the sales staff to properly educate themselves about the new product, diminishing their image as Apple Product Experts. 2) Cultural or Language Barrier: in todays globalized market and economy, it is often the case that communication within organization crosses many language and cultural barriers daily. For example, in US, it is expected that 10 million Hispanic residents will be added to the population every 10 years (Workforce Development Board, 2002). Since American is considered as the melting pot, where the number of immigrant workers being added to the workforce is increasing exponentially, it is vital for the companies to restructure their internal policies to allow the immigrant workers to adjust and thrive in the new environment. 3) Financial Barriers: It should come as no surprise that in todays meager economic market condition of recent times, companies are often faced with decisions to pick and choose projects to invest in that drives innovation. The primary reason behind not being able to pursue all projects at the same time is often times budget related. Financial barriers within an organization can be caused by meager financial performance of the company or by inadequate financial planning and forecasting. For example, in a manufacturing company forecasts future demand for one of their products based on incorrect assumption, they might over spend on manufacturing a product that might not sell, leaving the company with a financial barrier towards a possible project that might make the company more successful.

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4) Regulatory Barriers: Regardless of their geographic location, each organization must abide by the local and, applicable, global laws that govern their industry. However sometimes these laws can hinder a companys effort to grow. For example, in 2011, the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the $39 billion proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T under the anti-trust law. According to the deputy attorney general, James M. Cole, since this acquisition would have combined two of the biggest mobile wireless service providers in the US, the result would have been a semi-monopolized market, where the end consumer would have low quality service, with fewer options, for higher prices (Merced, Cane, & Protess, 2011). For organizations to identify and eradicate these barriers, it is important for them to routinely conduct an objective analysis of the root cause, manifestation, and impact of barriers, then prioritizing them based on their influence and how difficult they will be to remove (Rieger, 2011). Even though it might seem that these barriers can be impossible to overcome, the decision makers within the organization should realize that since more than often these barriers are caused by the internal environment of the company, it is possible to remove these barriers by restructuring the internal policies with minimum or no collateral damage. Organizations should also invest in conducting internal audits of all its process to ensure that no redundancies exist and the process is working towards the betterment of the organization. For example, going back to our case-study of communication barriers within the Apple Corporation, the company should restructure its strategy to ensure proper training is provided to all its sales staff prior to the release of any new products to ensure that the staff is well-educated about the new product while also educating them about the repercussion of leaking any unwarranted details of the new product to any news outlet or, even worse, the competitors. For language and

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cultural barrier, companies should invest is providing adequate training for its entire staff in understanding and overcoming these commutation barrier while understanding the

implementation of having such barriers in the organization. In conclusion, regardless of the industry a particular company operates in, it is inundated with operational barriers on a daily bases. While some might be created by external forces, such as change in the government, majority of these barriers are caused by internal environment. It is crucial for companies not only identify these barriers but also understand their true impact on the performance and future of the company. Understanding the impact will allow the company to restructure their strategies to overall these barrier and enable them to achieve their purpose, while staying in line with their vision.

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References Forbes (2014). Apple. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/companies/apple/ Hull, P. (Dec 19th, 2012). Be Visionary, Think Big. Retrieved from

http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickhull/2012/12/19/be-visionary-think-big/ Merced, M., Cane, J., & Protess, B. (Aug 31st, 2011). U.S. Moves to Block AT&T merger with T-Mobile. Retrieved from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/u-s-moves-to-blockatt-merger-with-t-mobile/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 Rieger, T. (Feb 3rd, 2011). Overcoming Barriers to Success. Retrieved from

http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/145901/overcoming-barriers-success.aspx Workforce Development Board (Feb 2002). Cultural and Language Barriers in the Workplace. Retrieved from http://efegroupb2011.wikispaces.com/file/view/clbpositionpaper.pdf