The BestPractice Day 2023 organized by Staufen provided ample proof of just how important personal contact still is. At the end of June in Darmstadt, more than 200 leaders had an intensive discussion about what the value creation networks of the future must look like in order to be more flexible, efficient, and resilient.
BMW, GEA, Siemens, Trumpf, Mahle, and SEW-EURODRIVE were just a few of the global players that took advantage of Staufen AG’s first BestPractice Day since the pandemic pause to explain to the more than 200 owners, top managers, and industry experts who had traveled to Darmstadt which strategies they want to use to make their companies fit for the future and resistant to crises.
In his keynote speech to kick off the congress, Frank Krause, Director of Qualification & Research at Staufen, explained how dangerous it can be to rely on short-lived management styles. This is relevant above all if they are touted with “hellfire and brimstone.” This Staufen partner has long since provided proof that lean thinking is not a fad. An important quality of lean, particularly in these times: “Lean’s momentum lies in the compulsion to expose things that seem certain.”
Finding the right balance between centralization and freedom to move
The automobile supplier Mahle would like to protect itself and its employees against deceptive certainties, and it relies on ambidexterity to accomplish this. Stefan Land, Vice President Thermal Management Europe at Mahle, explains the approach this way: “We clearly define our strategic guardrails, but at the same time, we leave sufficient space for flexibility.” At Mahle this means, always calculating various extreme scenarios in addition to strategic planning, for example. And this automotive supplier is also ambidextrous when it comes to management. Thus, in addition to classic specifications from the line, a new error culture has been developed, one in which errors are called for in order to significantly accelerate processes with the “fail-fast approach.”
The right balance between centralization and freedom to move also plays a decisive role for the mechanical and plant engineering company GEA. “As a fragmented company, we have selected a matrix organization in order to take advantage of synergies, but we also let all areas run successfully independently,” says GEA COO Johannes Giloth. In this move, the profit and loss calculation was handed back to the individual GEA divisions, for example, while the topic of sustainability is still controlled centrally. GEA manager Giloth: “Large customers and investors expect our green ratings to be good. Our goal: Net Zero 2040!”
We clearly define our strategic guardrails, but at the same time, we leave sufficient space for flexibility.Stefan Land
Vice President Thermal management Europe, MAHLE Behr GmbH & Co. KG
“Courage, curiosity, and passion will shape the future!”
Frank Riemensperger, a member of the steering committee of the scientific academy acatech, is even convinced that it will only be possible to confront many current challenges with cooperation between companies: “One company will not be able to manage the increasing complexity by itself.” The former chief of Accenture in Germany sees politics in play (“regulation is gritty industrial politics”) and he challenged participants to examine their own ways of thinking (“Our engineering culture is still an isolation culture”).
Johann Soder is also a passionate advocate for Germany’s competitiveness. As he typically does, the Managing Director of SEW-EURODRIVE made things crystal clear: “A modern company must undergo the transformation to become a smart company. And smart means modular, lean, agile, green, resilient.” Soder demonstrated what this looks like at SEW using the example of the new SEW plant in Graben-Neudorf, where customer orders almost make their own way through the factory. Soder says: “The magic formula here is the realization of human-technology cooperation.” These industrial pioneers concluded the BestPractice Day 2023 with an appeal: “Courage, curiosity, and passion will shape the future!” It seems that human strengths will not go out of style so fast even in the era of artificial intelligence and its ilk.
All information about BestPractice Day, Europe’s leading lean management congress, can be found on the BestPractice Day website.