Interview with Michele Galbiati – Head of Manufacturing, Lavazza
In 1895, Luigi Lavazza opened his first shop on Via San Tommaso in Turin. Like none other of his time, he knew how to make incomparable mixtures of coffee from various origins. With inventiveness and passion, he and his descendants created a group of companies that now operates around the world.
Michele Galbiati, Lavazza’s Head of Manufacturing, has been with the family business for almost six years. He helped shape the company’s most recent evolution process from the beginning.
Today, the Lavazza Group operates in 90 countries. Every year, 27 billion cups of Lavazza coffee are consumed. By acquiring various brands, the company is constantly growing. How do you shape this growth process?
Growth usually means changes to corporate structures. In order to make Lavazza fit for the future, it was necessary to restructure our production facilities worldwide. For this, we needed to bring as many employees as possible on board.
How did you go about restructuring?
We specifically hired new managers that worked in highly competitive business environments, such as the automotive industry, as well as colleagues who have experience with Lean Management. This allowed us to successfully integrate Lean tools and techniques into the company. However, the soft skills of managers and employees were lacking and in need of development. A change in leadership, embedded in the overall process, was necessary in order to work more effectively. It was at this point that we turned to Staufen Italia.
At the end of 2017, Lavazza started its first Shop Floor Management project at the Turin headquarters with the help of Staufen Italia. Was this crucial for the change process of the management structure?
Yes, the pilot project was a milestone. First, we looked at how Endress+Hauser integrated Shop Floor Management into their corporate culture. The BestPractice visit was a key experience for many longtime Lavazza executives. After that, everyone was convinced of the need for cultural change. The subsequent training sessions focused on establishing a new understanding of leadership.
Bosses in the traditional sense became mentors who empower their teams to solve problems on-site instead of delegating them to higher levels.
What challenges were associated with introducing the new management structure?
Change has to be put into practice, in order for the whole process to work. This does not take place overnight. It needs time. A high level of discipline, consistency and constant reflection from the entire management team is crucial. After all, Shop Floor Management should ensure sustainable change.
What aspect of this change process has helped you the most?
An important element on our path to a new leadership culture was the Hoshin Kanri workshop. This allowed managers and employees to form a commitment to the same visions and goals. It included, among other things, establishing concrete target agreements. Another key to success in making work more effective is transparent communication and using boards for visualization.
The project was initially implemented at the Turin headquarters. What were the next steps?
The pilot project was extremely successful, so we introduced Shop Floor Management in other areas of production. The executives in these areas actually demanded it. Today, an entirely new spirit can be felt throughout the company, not only in production but also in many other areas of the company. The new leadership culture has established itself everywhere.
Corporate figures – Do they reflect the company’s new structure?
Definitely. Today, we see greater productivity and effectiveness. We have been able to reduce conversion costs by 30 percent over the past three years. We also see positive effects on employee satisfaction and greater transparency. The new direction we are heading in promises to be very successful for the future development of the company.
Lean helps us a great deal, especially in integrating acquisitions. With this kind of leadership culture, we are better able to grow together as a whole.michele galabiati, head of manufacturing, lavazza