Steffen Weber
By
December 20, 2018

Changing and Improving Company Culture - what is needed beyond continuous improvement tools and methodologies?

Steffen Weber has written an article on his interpretation of the Global State of Operational Excellence Survey Report - Critical Challenges & Future Trends - 2018/2019.  Click here to download the full Survey Report 2018/19.  

The Most Comprehensive Study of Critical Challenges and Future Trends within Operational Excellence

With nearly 1000 respondents, 37 insightful questions, detailed analysis & insights from 40 industry thought leaders, and the BTOES Insights executive team, this 130 page report is recognised as the most comprehensive study of critical challenges and future trends within Operational Excellence, and is considered a key resource for the industry. Areas covered include:

  • The Critical Operational Excellence Challenges faced by executives.

  • The Current Scope of Operational Excellence.

  • How is Operational Excellence success measured?

  • Key Findings & Roadblocks.

  • What are executives focusing on over the next 12-18 months?

  • What have been the greatest developments?

  • What are the key drivers pushing change in Operational Excellence?

  • Industry Perspectives.

  • Small, Medium & Large Corporation Perspectives.

  • Detail Analysis & Insights from BTOES Insights Executive Team.

  • Detailed Analysis & Insights from 40 Industry Thought Leaders.

  • Analysis of key themes, including Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding.

 

Research report front cover

 

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Changing and Improving Company Culture - what is needed beyond continuous improvement tools and methodologies?

Is your company hiding behind the mask of continuous improvement?

More than 52% of the respondents surveyed for the 2018 report “The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges and Future Trends” say they have a centralized entity to drive Operational Excellence in the company. Still, 53% say changing company culture is their No.1 challenge and 23% of surveyed experts say that managers do not buy in, 36% say they have a hard time to sustain change. So obviously having an Operational Excellence department alone is not cutting it for the culture change. Click here to read the full Survey Report 2018/19. 

 

I am working on implementing a structured approach to process management in a global R&D organization in a geographically quite diversified business. We are in our fifth year, which would put us into the “adolescence” category regarding maturity. While I see our people are generally bought-in to Continuous Improvement as an aspiration, I see they get frustrated by the pace, amount and misalignment of change and by change not done well. I assume this applies to many companies. Click here to read more Articles on The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges & Future Trends - Research Report 2018/19.

 

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So I want to take a step back and ask “which culture do we actually mean?” when we say we need to improve company culture?

For sure, we are not speaking about the culture that brings employees back every day with a high motivation to deliver and give their best.

I believe the culture that needs to change is the hunt for “low hanging fruit” and perceived “quick wins.” As one survey respondent put it, the one that lets “Project Leaders focusing on tools and not on behavior change”. The culture that just throws methods, technologies and tools over the fence. The culture that creates and names departments by popular buzz words to ensure we stay on top of competition and “finally do something about this new challenge.” The culture that keeps companies in fire-fighting mode.

Changing and Improving Company Culture - what is needed beyond continuous improvement tools and methodologies?

It is well manifested in one of the survey comments: “there are lots of great ideas but executing them, and ultimately sustaining the improvements is very difficult, as most cultures want to move on to the next challenge once they feel they have implemented an improvement (…)”. I call this “Actionism” - a very common symptom of reactive organizations. So how do you get from a reactive to a pro-active organization?

Having gained considerable practical experience and done some reading in this area over the past years, I say successful (culture) change requires a holistic approach. Tools and methodologies alone are not enough to drive cultural change. Even adding a Change Management department often leaves companies falling short of their objective.

 

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So what does the trick?

It all starts with – people – because changing culture simply means changing individual behaviors at scale. What I see bearing fruit is an approach of three tactics: First, reduce complexity by creating an easily understandable overview of the delivery structure. Second, win the hearts and minds of an influential group of people to take ownership of this structure and equip them with the capability to do so. Third - and this is the one that makes the first two work or not – leadership discipline: you need committed leaders walking the talk standing united behind the concept, servant leaders helping their teams to hold the ambiguity, determined leaders creating time for- and demanding accountability from people taking ownership.

 

For the first tactic, the structure needs to create the “ability to bring together disparate functions across the organization” to quote a respondent. It needs to accurately display the company’s or department’s delivery framework. Take the question “what is actually ‘end-to-end’ in our case?” People will have different perspectives on that depending where they sit in the organization. I have experienced that once you can agree to such a structure across departments, people can relate to where they sit and how they contribute to the value chain. Things become transparent and clear to them.

 

The second tactic is to make influential people take ownership and manage that framework and the processes within sustainably. This will bring you to “everyone rowing in the same direction to drive this type of change” as a survey respondent put it. And here is where you need to consider a holistic approach, a tremendous amount of disciplines from selecting the right people, project- and   change management best practice, competency management as well as organizational design to build cross-functional teams and tie them to the formal organization so empowerment is assured.

 

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On top of those – and this is where leadership kicks in - one needs to manage communication and have a targeted incentive- and recognition system paired with a people development approach.

This way, you are step-by-step building a collaborative community of experts who are motivated, enabled, empowered and incentivized to role-model desired behaviors. Such a community will have no problem “to live a culture of consequent management with clear KPIs and empowerment” quoting another survey respondent. Managing by clear metrics will re-assure leaders, because the impact becomes visible. Such a community will also have an easier time embracing and adopting new technologies because they know how their processes will benefit.

 

Planting an Operational Excellence department (or a Digital Transformation team for that matter) in such an environment increases the likelihood of success as it is mirrored and interlinked in the organization. This enhances adoption of new methods and tools and in turn will accelerate the rate of improvement.

 

And there is another prospect: the survey mentions that we are in the age of customer delight. In the future, customers will take an increasingly closer look behind the curtains of companies and base their choice more and more on “how things are done in this shop”. If you are able to excite your people to manage and optimize their processes, this will not only increase their delivery and show in bottom-line improvement, it will also improve the top-line as customers care about the How. 

Want to learn more? Download the full Report.
Changing and Improving Company Culture - what is needed beyond continuous improvement tools and methodologies?

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About the Author 

Steffen Weber: Changing and Improving Company Culture - what is needed beyond continuous improvement tools and methodologies?Steffen Weber

Head Process Management, Syngenta AG

Steffen is currently the Head of Process Management in Syngenta’s Seeds Development department based in Sweden. He worked in various roles targeted to business transformation and operational excellence at Syngenta since 2012 in the US and Switzerland. He has also held leadership roles in R&D and product development since he joined Syngenta in 2009. Before that he worked for BASF Plant Science in various roles in R&D and Quality Management since 2001. Steffen holds a PhD in Plant Breeding from the University of Giessen, Germany where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in academia before he started his industrial career.

Steffen believes that everyone has passion to perform in a team delivering solutions. Therefore, he works with people to unlock their potential through a structured approach that connects to purpose and facilitates collaboration and decision making. This way he is building high performing teams that can accomplish anything from product delivery to business transformation.Check out his LinkedIn page.

Syngenta’s global Seeds business operates in a competitive, technology-driven and highly regulated environment delivering into diverse geo-climatic markets. This requires a diversified, yet anchored approach to product development. Unlocking the economy of scale of a global corporation while maintaining customer focus as well as compliance to regulations in highly localized markets is the challenge for Steffen’s Process Management role.

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BTOES.com

The issues in this article are just one of topic areas that are going to be discussed at the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry (BTOES19). March 18-22, 2019, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort®

BTOES is the industry’s biggest and best, senior-level, cross-industry gathering of Business Transformation & Operational Excellence industry leaders and senior executives.

It also hosts the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Awards, which showcase globally the most outstanding organizational achievements through the application of Operational Excellence programs.

The summits hosts a number of private forums for C-Level & Global corporate-level leaders as well as business unit heads.

With over 150 speakers, over 100 sessions, 12 Keynotes, 9 Track Themes, 5 parallel tracks, 60+ track sessions, 50 roundtable discussions, 20 Interactive Workshops, 6 Thought Leader Panels, 5 Leaders Boardrooms, 5 co-located events, the Industry Awards Program, Site Visits, 20+ hours of social networking including 2 gala cocktail parties, dinners, numerous group activities, this is the ultimate event to benchmark, network and drive Operational Excellence to the next level.

 

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There is a strong focus on Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding. We dedicated two tracks to advanced technologies, such as AI, Machine Learning, RPA, Predictive Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud infrastructure etc.

 

The agenda is designed to encourage active meaningful conversations though all day enhanced networking and interaction opportunities, including

  • All-day Refreshment & Themed Breaks

  • 1¼ Hour Hot Breakfast Networking Sessions

  • 1½ Hour Hot Plated Networking Lunches with Topic & Industry Sector focussed tables

  • 1½ Hour Roundtable Sessions by Topic & Industry Sector.

  • Keynote & Themes Panel Sessions

  • Hosted Welcome Receptions from 5.30pm

  • Expanded more lavish Awards Program

  • Newly launched Night Summit for attendees to meet after dinner

For more information or to discuss the summit in more detail please schedule a call below,

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