Building a culture of continuous improvement
Eternit, which is part of the Etex Group, is the Belgian market leader in roof, façade and wall solutions.
Eternit has ambitious growth plans for 2020 based on the following three strategic components:
- Customer focus
- Continuous improvement
- Corporate social responsibility
Their goal is an ambitious growth in turnover by 2020. The ‘continuous improvement’ component should assure this growth, without the need for additional equipment or staff. Eternit wants to manage this challenge by working smarter.
The following building blocks are crucial in attaining a company culture in which ‘continuous improvement’ is the norm for all staff members.
Conviction and leadership
The main factor for successful culture change is a conviction within the management team. Ongoing projects are connected to a personal action plan. Each management team member is coached specifically and individually on continuous improvement while carrying out his/her normal daily activities. The aim is not only for them to set a good example, but also for them to coach others on continuous improvement themselves, as part of their management role.
Choosing the right projects
To start with, projects meeting the following characteristics are identified:
- The project is strategically relevant to attain a change in culture. This is important in creating a positive vibe among staff right from the get-go.
- Staff generally ‘fancy’ joining in with the project.
- A limited number of projects, in balance with a large and continuous stream of improvements.
These projects are the backbone in the process towards a company culture based on continuous improvement. This type of culture change is indeed only possible when each member of staff is actively and continuously focused on change. 3
Good mix of the right team
An essential element in achieving a successful change process is a good team leading the way. A team that knows those on the work floor and is familiar with the sensitive areas. A team that remains motivated and is involved with continuous improvement on the work floor together with staff, day in day out. In this case, the team, consisting of both Möbius and Eternit employees, operates as a single unit, adheres all principles first (walk-the-walk) and is entirely dedicated to generating a culture change among staff.
Another key success factor to sustainability is an excellent follow-up of each project, by standards, visual monitoring, coaching of supervisors and performance indicators.
The journey continues but the first results are already evident.
- Current projects such as Leadership and team development trajectory, 5S, improvement boards, efficient meeting and communication methods, process optimizations (phase in phase out, failure,…) and standardization of training programs.
- Personal development plans have been completed for each management team member and are currently being put into place.
- Improvement list counting over 200 ideas for improvement measures. The list continues growing.
- Monthly gemba walks by the management
- For now, 30% of all employees were already involved in large and small improvement, this number continues to grow.
Let us just say that the entire journey has been designed for success.
The down-to-earth mentality of the consultants is a major asset. A lot of practical experience that can be shared at all levels - from workplace to board meeting.