Operational Excellence is Culture with THE Peter Malek

Operational Excellence is Culture with THE Peter Malek

Published By : Cydney McCollum November 22, 2022

Operational Excellence is Culture with THE Peter Malek


During Opex (World Annual Operational Excellence & Business Transformation Summit), Host Jimmy Hewitt had the amazing opportunity to sit down with THE Peter Malek, Author and Process & Technology Transformation Leader at Experian. Peter has over 18+ years of progressive achievement in organizational strategy, operational excellence, project/change management, product management and 10+ in leadership. He founded VMWare’s Process Discovery and RPA Practice, and he is now leading productivity at Experian! Tune in to hear his insight on Operational Excellence, Scaling Beyond RPA, and more!


Watch Episode 17 interview now!

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GUEST BACKGROUND:Peter Malek, Author and Process & Technology Transformation Leader at Experian


Management Information Systems (MIS) degree

Double major in Decision Sciences Statistics

Masters in Systems Engineering


Executive Education

Organizational Change Management

Artificial Intelligence Strategy for AI (MIT)

Lean Six Sigma

Master Black Belt

Process Improvement background:

Always focused on process improvement, personally and professionally

  • Grew up playing sports
    • Rowed crew in college
  • Personal trainer
  • 17 years since first introduced to the topic


  • Head of Productivity at Experian
Operational Excellence:

Peter Malek’s Definition: It’s about having a seamless, meaningful, measurable ecosystem

  • People are able to focus on performing the tasks that they love
    • Solving problems
    • Innovating
    • Culture
    • Enablement

Empowerment: Giving people the ability to make decisions and execute against them themselves

Don’t hold people back by rules and layers of approval if they don’t have to be

Give people the room to learn or fail fast and quickly and try things until they figure out a way to do it better


People: where the success lies

Strategy Alignment & Executive Sponsorship

  • If your leaders are on board, they’re going to invest in the necessary technologies and trainings


People Element: How to introduce the people element to process improvement….

  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Teach people to pick up, leverage, and apply best practices and techniques to help them improve how they can work
  • Make improvement palatable and simple enough for anybody to be able to pick up and apply in increments
    • As they master the skills, they can then add a little bit more to their toolbox in a continuous improvement process

Start with adjustments people can apply immediately in their day-to-day and then slowly introduce concepts as time moves on

Crawl before you walk, walk before you run, run before you start to fly

You have it go slower than how leadership or a process improvement leader would like to see things move in order to be successful in getting individuals to adopt and accept change

Enterprise Productivity Optimization:

Oftentimes, when there is a transformation program, there is a specialized set of well trained, highly skilled, certified individuals (Example: Lean Six Sigma) being deployed on projects to help facilitate and apply the methods that they have mastered

Culture change: There has to be a philosophical conversation with leadership around the “North Star” and priorities

Change will not happen quickly

Do not want to lose the talent and skills that the organization has along the way

The highly skilled team can work on the intricate part of the strategic projects, but the rest of the enterprise will need time to adjust the way they think and apply concepts

  • Happens in parallel
  • Put the right people in the right seats at the right time
    • Strategy: monitor how many people across the organization are using process mapping methods and skills as part of guiding conversations, solving problems, documenting processes within their teams, achieving goals

Goal: Get them to start using the mindset and tooling in the way that they’re thinking and engaging with others on their teams

Day-to-day way of thinking

Grow to see how it benefits them in terms of how they think and operate

They are thinking through different ways to be innovative or creative

  • Next step: slowly introduce other tools that link processes together
    • Example: Start with documentation and measuring, add process mapping current state, then process mapping future state, then link the two, then “what-if” scenarios form, etc.
      • It becomes an intuitive, natural next step that employees see on their own
      • Opens up conversations in teams
    • Analogy: Don’t smother a fire by putting logs on top that are too big, start with pine needles and twigs and build up
  • Eventually, there will be an intersection between the specialized team and the cultural adaptation within the rest of the enterprise that will allow the business to expand and multiply upon its strategic transformation
    • The rest of the enterprise will also begin identifying additional areas of improvement


Empower program: created a program that is centered around empowering individuals to be able to solve problems and improve how everyone works and to grow the business

Help people get oriented on process/productivity improvement

Provides employees with a template to document business-as-usual problems that they are solving on their own

Enables employees to show off the little wins that they are doing in their own spaces that may not be getting noticed or shared with leadership

  • Other employees benefit from learning how peers are solving similar problems as well
    • As quick as technology evolves, a lot of our default applications and software these days have productivity apps and features built into them, but the majority of the workforce doesn’t feel that they know how to leverage the common tools, applications, and systems to their full extent
    • Helps increase overall productivity that is already at employee fingertips
Use Cases: operational excellence and process improvement


Large part of Intuit’s operational environment

Walk in the shoes of the other individual

Employee or end customer

Goal: observe and ask questions

Even pick up on tasks that they may not mention are bothersome, but may have become a natural path in their cognitive way of performing the task and they don’t realize it could be solved much quicker

  • Every employee had the ability to do this
  • Helps Intuit improve its products, services, processes, and experiences

Get company to build process improvement and operational excellence into its DNA

Prioritize both employee and customer experience

Create a contagious effect throughout the company

Example: your favorite product that you tell your family and friends about on a regular basis

  • Create something that everybody falls in love with, sees value in
  • Output: better service, better experience to the customer, better product, less turnover, more customer retention, and more customer demand

“You want people in your organization talking about methods and tools the way you want your consumers of your products and services talking about your products and services”


Peter started Business Process Excellence Practice and RPA Center of Excellence from the ground up

  • Pilot: When introducing RPA to various business leaders, they knew they had to pilot it first to prove it out and show that it can work in order to get executives to invest in the technology and get others to listen to the idea
  • Did not deploy the technology in traditional area (Finance)
  • Wanted to break the norm to show the impact
    • Went to the sales organization: Introduced the concept of RPA to an executive at a townhall
      • Demystified the technology
      • Diligent, careful, and sensitive about ensuring people understood properly that the tool and aide to help individuals NOT replace anyone

RPA slogan: “Freeing up the minds and time of employees to think and innovate.”

Target the person who is tough to persuade normally; that is who you are after

  • Challenge: The sales organization was getting ready for seasonality and volume increases with sales deals
    • Leaders were determining whether to hire more staff to support the volumes increases or if there was something they could do to free up the time of existing resources that were already skilled to be able to handle the increase in volume and demand

Solution: RPA embedded into Salesforce tasks performed by a team offshore in India

Log into systems, copy over information, licensing keys, and other critical information, enter it into Salesforce, capture that information, and submit and save it.

Standard repetitive process that was ripe for automation, but in a non-traditional area

Result: offshore resources were able to be deployed in other areas of the business where the volume increases were going to be incurred

Were still able to perform exception handling on the automated process

Advice Overview:


  • Empower individuals to be able to solve problems and improve how they work and grow the business

“Play to the strengths of the individuals that you have and their skills and their passion and then start to incrementally develop their skills to help them to get even better at what they love doing.”

  • Deploy a team of highly skilled individuals to begin improving the business, while still allowing the rest of the enterprise to incrementally learn the methodology for process improvement
  • Teach people to pick up, leverage, and apply best practices and techniques to help them improve how they can work

Go back to the basics:

Create learning platforms within your own organization to leverage tools you already have at your fingertips

  • Give employees the platform or ability to accelerate their mastery of tools they will be using on a day-to-day basis, no matter what level they are at in the organization
  • Contributes to operational excellence
  • Don’t be afraid to automate in “non-traditional” areas!
  • Sales Organization (less common) versus Finance (very common)

Peter’s Philosophy:

You should have an end-to-end roadmap strategy to where any of the automations you are doing, whether they are considered incremental, quick wins or not, should be tied to a larger end goal

Prioritize quick wins accordingly, but make sure it is all in line with a high-level goal that you’ve aligned on with the executive leaders and the business.




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