Organised by Holzhauser & Partner two directors of operations of a leading dental equipment company travelled and met over one and a half days with the team
of a plant manager and the internal change consultant of an automobile factory (winner in 2012 of the price “Best factory in Germany”). The willingness to reflect upon their activity and to subject
themselves to the criticism of others has existed in both companies for some time.
The idea was: as both companies are not in competition with one another and on both sides very open, innovation oriented and experienced people work
successfully, they could benefit from each other’s approaches, experiences and future projects. At times the exchange was moderated by the consultant of Holzhauser & Partner and the internal
The topics agreed upon were:
- How do we organise processes of change? Who is integrated and how: workers, managers, works council?
- How does the work organisation change? And how are these changes negotiated and agreed upon?
- How do organisational structures change – how is the communication for this conducted?
- How are the professional and social competences of the co-workers enhanced?
- How has the teamwork developed further? How are roles and responsibilities changed? What is preassigned? How have functions such as team speaker,
foreman, group leader, craftsman, works manager etc. developed in recent years?
- Which questions of quality, excellence of process, transparency and leadership are posed?
- What reactions are there to the demographic development – how is the health management?
- Where are the directors of operations and the plant manager autonomous and what are the limits to their range of activity?
- What do we experience as similar at both locations? What is different? What can we learn from this?
The talks sometimes took place in a meeting room and sometimes directly in the factory. A climate of strong curiosity and mutual esteem developed very
quickly. Many questions: why? How did you arrive at this solution? What is your next step? ....
The visitors were especially fascinated by the following:
- Just a few years ago the factory was intended to be closed due to low quality and today it is a positive example in the company.
- The concrete customer orientation of the Bavarian company
- The ability of the factory to face up to international competition – especially because the interests and needs of the workers are taken seriously and a lot of
money is invested in health measures and ergonomics; from the low level of illness: 2,4 %
- The open and efficient communication, which also serves the continuous process optimisation and further development of the work organisation: “communication is
our answer to growing complexity.”
- The highly differentiated functions such as craftsman, foreman etc., their interaction and careful personnel development.
- The inclusion of all co-workers in the development of the company and the transparency of the processes and decisions: when board members come to the factory
the workers present the technical developments and the work-organisation.
- The competitive ability also by continuous innovation and cost consciousness
- The transparent leadership and the appreciation of the workers in production: a friendly atmosphere prevails throughout all levels of the hierarchy
- The anticipation of future demographic development through long term projects
- The clear responsibility of the management of the factory without the aid of classical external big consultancy companies. Many visits to other companies are
carried out and this for all levels of the hierarchy. And a lot of time is invested in reflection loops.
- How the factory management integrates and further develops varying and partially contradictory challenges: zero-default-factory + 100% security of supply +
cost consciousness + sustainability in production and processes + innovation with high customer benefit
- The industrial park character of the plant location
Altogether the attention of the visitors was attracted by the fact that the motto “the human being is in the centre” is obviously not an empty formula, but
taken seriously with heart and mind.
All involved had much to consider further after the encounter and were occupied with the question: “what does the experience and concrete experienced mean for
us, for me?” They are convinced that such an exchange of experience on location constitutes a concentrated and effective form of learning.
A return visit is planned, in the meantime the exchange will continue.
Copyright Holzhauser & Partner, Pfinztal 1.12.2017
French version: the production managers have all completed engineering studies, they began their career with an apprenticeship – the plant manager in
Bavaria with a carpenter apprenticeship, one of the other two directors of operations as a tool maker the other as machinist. Unconceivable in France that such a professional biography should end
(for the present!) as director of operations!