Ph.D. Rita Maria DiFrancesco: “Industrial excellence allows companies to improve the customer satisfaction”
When we hear of “industrial excellence” we often think about great execution, high efficiency, outstanding performances, and so on. Which is not wrong. However, the idea behind benchmarking industrial excellence across industries goes far beyond these concepts. With this purpose, researchers from leading European business schools have developed a widely internationally acknowledged framework and assessment tool for what is called “Management Quality”. This concept is based on seven drivers, i.e., strategy setting and alignment, delegation, integration, participation, performance measurement, communication and employee development.
After clearly defining its strategy, a company should cascade it to the shop floor (top-down) and align it with the front line employees, effectively engaging them in an enduring search for solutions and improvements (bottom-up). Industrial excellence allows companies (whether them being manufacturing or service firms) to achieve sustainable volume growth, superior financial performance and customer satisfaction by applying Management Quality to all their core processes simultaneously.
On this basis, the Industrial Excellence Award (IEA) competition was launched in France in 1995, and over the last 20 years, it encompassed other European countries and Turkey. As of today, it accounts for eight countries (France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey), as well as ten leading academic partners (WHU, SDA Bocconi, Cambridge Judge, INSEAD, HEC Paris, IESE, IMD, Rotterdam School of Management, TU/e and Koç University), which constitute the jury panel. Each year, a national champion and a selected number of laureates in each country are chosen by the jury.
During a management conference in the fall, the national finalists compete live to be awarded the prestigious “Industrial Excellence Award Europe”. This prestigious award fosters the creation and development of a unique learning environment and an exceptional network of European companies in order to support the best practice sharing.
Never stop improving
Lessons learned from the Industrial Excellence Award can be applied to any industry or country and can be summarized in this way: to survive in today’s dynamic and competitive environment, companies should never stop improving, which implies not only doing things right but also doing the right things. It is crucial for companies to adapt to the changing environment, which should be seen as an opportunity to exploit rather than a threat. This explains why the focus of the Industrial Excellence competition has been shifted during the years from i) Lean Management over ii) Supply Chain Collaboration and Integration to iii) Strategy Deployment and iv) Digitally-enhanced processes and data analytics.
Last fall, Infineon Technology (Germany) has been awarded the “Industrial Excellence Award Europe” during the Industrial Excellence Conference 2017 in Berlin. National champions, who also were competing for the European award, were Sonceboz (Switzerland), Daimler (Germany), Mahou San Miguel (Spain), Groupe Point Vision (France), Prysmian Group (Italy) and Ford Otosan (Turkey).
Infineon distinguished itself by the integrated demand and supply matching within a global virtual manufacturing network, the strong integration and engagement of frontline employees, and the smart factory approach that generates significant productivity improvements. Applications for the 2018 IEA competition are now open (for details, see the Industrial Excellence Award webpage. Which company will take the award home this year?
Post written by Ph.D. Rita Maria Difrancesco is assistant Professor at EADA’s Department of Marketing, Operations & Supply Chain Management.