Last week we held an event to share best practices in the fields of digitalisation lean for large organizations. The invited speakers were:
- István Ladosinszki, the leader of competence centre for Hungarian T-Systems
- Tivadar Tavaszi, the CEO of the Hungarian Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems Budapest
- Priscilla Várnagy, the CEO of Be-novative
How to introduce innovation at every level and implement ideas better?
István talked about how important it is to introduce innovation to every level of the organization.
“Nobody can rely on geniuses because there are too few of them and they are not reliable. The strength of the organization is its capability of bringing out the genius from an ordinary person who is not aware of his own capabilities, breakthrough potentials. This could be the single most motivating factor for others as well to see how others can discover their hidden talent. The goal of the organization is to encourage ordinary people make more than just average activities.” (Peter Ferdinand Drucker)
His next concept was by Ernesto Sirolli:
Managers should start to listen more — ask people in every level about their ideas, how they can make their jobs easier.
The process seems very easy: birth of the idea, accept the idea, evaluate the idea, implement the idea, evaluate the results and award the idea owner. Why this is not happening like this all of the time:
- no award
- no tracking
- no responsible person
- no deadline
- no return
- no maintenance
- no suitable decision process
- very little implementation or KPI
We need a new approach to ensure better follow up with the ideas.
4 Success factors to ensure followup with the ideas:
- Multi-level motivation: encourage people to share their ideas — give personal feedback and reaction on them following the session
- Dedicate time to move forward with the execution of the selected ideas
- Goal oriented ideation-challenges: it should be a pain point or the users should be interested in the change
- Middle managers: they are the key, they have to support and believe in the importance of the challenge topic and dedicate operative time for execution
Why middle level managers are key in establishing an innovation culture?
Process improvement opportunities are the gate-way for people to later discover more disruptive ideas. Logical, just-do-it type of improvement suggestions are typically needed and a great practice and encouragement as well.
5 levels of creativity by Karen Gadd: Oxford Creativity TRIZ:
- Logically clear solutions: 32%
- Just do it type developments: 45%
- Complex improvements: 18%
- Innovations, new concepts: 4%
- Discovery 1%
Who wins? Everybody!
You just need to start. In the beginning, you will only have a few followers, but with time and good examples more and more people will join and follow you.
Knorr-Bremse is one of the top factories in Europe. Tivadar started his story that he had never thought that he would work for 1 company for 20 years and it happened. He started his career as quality manager, he became the production manager and now he is the managing director of the factory for Hungary.
Knorr-Bremse built their processes based on Toyota lean. It was a big challenge that they are not doing mass production but producing a larger variety of products in a high quality. The Top Management was satisfied with the results — the firm overall had 2% waste but it did not stop them from analyzing how to make it better. The management team, cca. 15 people has 110 KPIs. Everything is important, they cannot focus on one KPI at the same time. According to the German culture: plan, act, change. He asked himself if it is a good approach or it needs change and more focus: What is the most important: quality, time, cost? How can I achieve it? What kind of daily challenges do we have?
How can the Top Management free up time to concentrate on the future?
Through the challenge results, he soon discovered that Lean management’s responsibility is to guide the company closer to perfection step by step continuously. This is how the corporate culture is coming from above:
- Current reality
- Goal: yearly: how can I achieve my half-year or yearly goal
- Vision: 5–10 years strategy
- True North: the leaders are responsible to lead the company towards perfection, which means zero risk, 100% value add, 100% flow, greatness from all employees. This should be something which is not achievable.
This is how a Learning organization is formed — where there is a balanced fit between people, disruptive innovation, complex improvement, process development in a continuous improvement cycle.
The professional leader should be provocative
What kind of behavior is needed?
- Positive attitude: He can see the opportunity in the critical situations.
- Strategic, systematic thinker.
- He keeps the company moving, focusing on developments and is brave to find out new ways.
- He is surrounded with the best people, he is not a star player.
- The new situation makes him motivated, failures and introspection is important.
“We cannot motivate others — We can create situations that will motivate them.”
The Innovators’ DNA
Priscilla added that the Innovators DNA by Clayton M. Christensen looks quite similar, where innovators:
- Define challenges
- Ask questions
- Involve others
- Associate from other fields
- Experiment in small steps
The Innovators’ dilemma in relation to Industry 4.0:
Will we need humans to achieve 0% loss or will the machines will control all levels of continuous development?
Machines and digital programs are lead by people, their effectiveness depends on people.
What do we need to focus on as leaders?
- Transparent innovation strategy, resources
- Involving the middle management to challenges
- Importance of customer satisfaction on every level as the ultimate goal
Thus, a world driven by continuous improvement is a place where we can all recognize challenges and opportunities for development. Together, we will surface better quality ideas quicker and with effective processes. This is how we will be able to create breakthrough solutions together in a continuous innovation culture that thrives towards personal and organizational development to shape the world the way we want to see it.