Operational Excellence



Operational Excellence is the continuous and dynamic optimization of all processes and systems as a means of increasing efficiency in the company. We spoke with Jessica Schönborn, a member of the core international Operational Excellence team at STADA, about her work optimizing the efficiency of the STADA Group, conducting international webinars and the changes in the corporate culture.

What are you doing together with the core Operational Excellence team at STADA, Ms. Schönborn?

Operational Excellence (OpEx) has become increasingly important for many successful companies in recent years. There is a reason for this; the goal of Operational Excellence is to ensure the highest level of business performance. It can also be said that "what counts is being able to do something really well" and being able, "on your own" to ensure competitiveness and increase yields. What defines maximum performance is determined by the customers. In order to remain competitive, companies must constantly align all service areas with Operational Excellence in the interests of customer success. This means the constant and sustainable improvement of all processes and systems along the value chain from the point of view of efficiency and effectiveness.

Operational Excellence provides a comprehensive set of methods that is filled with a variety of options, such as Lean Management and Six Sigma. The decisive factors here are not which tools and methods are used, but rather the most important point is in the disciplined application of those tools and methods. This brings us to another important factor in Operational Excellence: the employees.
On the one hand, Operational Excellence can only be successfully implemented if the employees feel respected and motivated. On the other hand, the implementation of Operational Excellence provides a boost in staff motivation because nodes within the organization are removed. Decrepit processes and structures are smashed, and a dynamic process of continuous improvement is set in motion.
The STADA OpEx core team ensures that the concept of Operational Excellence is implemented. The focus of every one of us is to realize the transformation in the spirit of Operational Excellence at each respective site.
For example, my colleague Marina Radulovic started to transform the Hemofarm production site in Vrsac Serbia earlier this year and, together with the local team, is already in the implementation phase of various OpEx initiatives.
Lucie Kucerova, my colleague from Thornton & Ross in England, has already started the assessment phase for the Operational Excellence Transformation and will continue the process according to our OpEx structure, which means that all of the organization's locations will gradually be transformed. I will take care of the transformation of the R&D division and support cultural change within the organization.

"STADA's culture should be based on four guiding principles in the future: vision, courage, tenacity and the idea of 'all for one and one for all'."

It is particularly important to mention here that we want to set a good example as a team. We cannot expect anything from our colleagues that we do not implement ourselves. This is what we try to exemplify in our daily interactions, because in order to successfully initiate a cultural change it is important to not only talk about it but also do it. This is one of the guiding principles of Operational Excellence.

The foundation for successful implementation of the Operational Excellence method is the understanding and support of employees throughout the organization. How do you want to create the necessary conditions for this?

Operational Excellence is generally aligned with the overall strategy of a company, which not only concerns future products and markets, but also the definition of its employees' common values ​. STADA's culture is based on four guiding principles: foresight, courage, perseverance and the idea of 'all for one and one for all.'
I think that these four guiding principles complement the approach of Operational Excellence perfectly. On the one hand, Operational Excellence supports these cultural guidelines with philosophy and methods, and on the other, Operational Excellence needs the right mindset and right behavior of the employees to be successfully implemented.
Different techniques and principles of Operational Excellence substantiate the cultural change at STADA that is already underway. Special attention is also given (also for the core OpEx team) to good communication, a steady transfer of knowledge, good team work and the will to continuously improve. The creation of transparency is fundamental.
The core STADA OpEx team supports the culture change through various measures, which include, among other things, extensive interaction with Martina Hientz from Corporate Communications. She supports the improvement of internal communication not only with regard to Operational Excellence; some other important issues are the establishment of a global intranet and the implementation of an OpEx webinar series.
In this webinar series, we will also be supported by Mischa Dillmann from IT, who ensures that all employees in the group can watch the webinars live and actively participate in the chat window.
Our cross-departmental and cross-border cooperation is a great example of how a team pulls together to achieve something good for the company. Doing something and participating positively is an immense motivator. When that good work is then also rewarded with praise from colleagues and supervisors, that is often enough to keep people enthusiastic for the long term. That is why we propose a good example of Operational Excellence at each location every month, which will then be presented to the Executive Board and, hopefully, to the entire STADA Group.

What opportunities do you see in the increasing use of digitalization for the continuous improvement of existing processes through Operational Excellence?

I see the increasing use of digitalization as the foundation for continuous improvement of processes, because all decisions in this area are driven by numbers, data and facts. Each process is measured against an improvement and the current performance is determined and evaluated. This would not be possible without the support of digital tools.
Digitalization offers new opportunities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness as well as the transparency of value-added processes, and that's exactly what we need for the implementation of Operational Excellence.

How does digitalization affect your daily work today and what do you imagine the working environment will be like in the future?

I can no longer imagine my professional life without the benefits of digitalization. Everything is faster. Communication channels (no matter with whom) are simple and straightforward even across national borders. This, of course, also supports stronger international cooperation at STADA. In our core STADA OpEx team, this kind of international cooperation would not be possible without digitalization.

"I see the increasing use of digitalization as the foundation for continuous improvement of processes."

Even holding webinars would not be possible without company-wide digitalization. A few years ago I could have only dreamed of this kind of transfer of knowledge, but today it is reality. I also think that digitalization has positive aspects for the environment, for example when we think about a paperless workplace.
However, I think one negative of increasing digitalization is that people tend to have less personal contact with each other. People can often reach a decision more quickly in personal discussions than, for example, in a drawn-out exchange of emails.
I think we will find the right mix in the future: digitalization where it creates benefits, but personal exchanges should not be wholly replaced.

What experiences do you personally have with the rapid digital development?

Digitalization has of course also become an integral part of my private life. It does not matter if it's reading the daily newspaper on my tablet at breakfast or ordering everyday items on the Internet. In general, we are informed much better and faster than before, but I also see the dangers. People always have their smartphones in their hands, are too preoccupied with them, and quickly forget everything else around them. Especially when it comes to children, I think a very disciplined and responsible use of digital media is important in order to be a role model. For this reason, I keep my smartphone in the kitchen in the evenings and on the weekends and only turn it on from time to time. It is not always easy, but it is also a very liberating feeling.
I think if excessive use of the smartphone leads to social impoverishment, then there is an urgent need to make a difference because digital media cannot replace social contact. I personally prefer to meet my friends in a café instead of chatting with and writing them. An emoji cannot convey a person's laughter as well as personal contact can – even though emojis are certainly the highest form of emotion expression in digitalization.