To take full effect, a Lean Transformation must include all levels of a company. This is like running a marathon, explain Alexander Burgbacher and Stephan Filthuth in the podcast. Insta GmbH, which they lead, has not yet completed its first marathon, but it’s already clear: there will be a second one.
Insta GmbH in Lüdenscheid has been producing electronic components and systems since 1970. The solutions of this building technology, smart home, IoT technology and industrial electronics in the Sauerland are regarded as pioneering. The company has won several awards as one of the most innovative in the industry, but the competition never sleeps. To be able to act with agility, flexibility, and so that they are capable of change when it comes to the competition, this BestPractice Partner of Staufen AG decided for the long term in order to reach all levels of the company.
Becoming more competitive with Lean Management
The starting shot for the lean marathon was fired about ten years ago. New competitors in the smart home sector were coming onto the market; the economic pressure on Insta was growing. “At that time, I saw that little had changed at our company as compared to other companies with regard to supply chain and in production,” says Managing Director Alexander Burgbacher. In this situation, lean methods were supposed to help the company become as productive as possible.
“In the beginning, we moved hand over hand along the methods and held tight to them. There had to be an investment benefit for each change,” remembers Stephan Filthuth, Head of Production. “Only when we harvested the first fruits did we loosen up and experiment with the methods sometimes.”
Quality instead of tempo in the transformation process
At first, the tempo of the transformation played a subordinate role. “There is no blueprint for finding the right speed,” says Insta Managing Director Burgbacher. In the end, the speed always depends on the goals that a company wants to achieve. For him, the quality of the transformation was more important than the tempo. “We anchored the quality so that we would take the whole company along on the journey and the insights gained would benefit everyone. For this is the root of intrinsic motivation, so that the whole thing remains sustainable in the long term,” says Burgbacher enthusiastically.
Shop Floor Management as control lever for change
An important control lever for advancing with the Lean Transformation was the introduction of Shop Floor Management. The increased presence of the managers where value was created resulted in other changes at the company. “After the introduction, we determined that we have to orient people more concretely; that is, incorporate the topics of leadership and responsibility more. That’s when things really took off,” says production chief Filthuth.
Alexander Burgbacher adds: “We invest a lot of time in gaining insights at the company, for that’s what prepares the way for the next stages of maturity.” One stage was the creation of transparency about production flows; another the creation of so-called islands in production: “Starting an individual island as a pilot was a great insight gain; then the experiences could be multiplied and truly rolled out.”
Leadership improvements with Kata
At Insta, the next stage will be the topic of leadership Kata – that is, the regular improvement of management performance. Stephan Filthuth: “We want to get faster, we want to be able to react to changing situations better, and we want to be able to readjust in the short term – on every level.” This is only possible if each level has the freedom to make decisions and is familiar with the methods for achieving improvements.
Alexander Burgbacher: “In the end, the focus is on healthy human understanding and working together rationally on this basis. That’s where the lean methods really helped us a lot.” Stephan Filthuth adds that that’s where the company has taken a giant step forward. In these times, which have been characterized by Corona, material shortages, and other problems, and have been very stressful, the company has had to fight. “But we can do that well now because we have found new access points to one another. The cooperation works really well although it is truly exhausting. But a few years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do this.“
Lean as part of the corporate culture
However, it makes no sense to introduce lean methods only on the production level. Lean must become part of the whole corporate culture. That’s why the transformation at Insta continues. Insta Managing Director Burgbacher: “We started with a marathon, that was also clear to us. In the beginning, we thought we’d be running 10 kilometers. And then we determined that we’d have to add another 10. And now I would say that we’ve arrived at kilometer 30 or 35, and we want to run the rest of the kilometers very quickly. And shortly before the finish line, we will realize that we must run a second marathon. That’s probably how it will be. It’s a constant changing.”
Head of Production
Seminar on site at Insta:
A3 – Practical problem-solving according to Toyota
Practical problem solving is the engine of continuous improvement, which in turn is the backbone of the Toyota production system. Root causes of problems are revealed with PPS and sustainable improvements developed. Solving problems is how an organisation learns. The more managers and employees learn and mutually communicate what they have learned, the closer a company is to becoming a ‘learning organisation’.
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