Sustainability as the basis for adaptability – DÜRR

Interview with Dr.-Ing. Jochen Weyrauch, chairman of the board of Dürr Systems GmbH

The topic of sustainability is at the top of Dürr‘s agenda, not only in terms of its products and production methods, but also explicitly in terms of its employees and leadership.

What does sustainable management look like at Dürr?

At Dürr, we like to use the image of an “entrepreneur at the company” to illustrate this. As a global plant and mechanical engineering company with individual projects worth over 100 million euros, we need employees with a high level of customer orientation, flexibility and personal responsibility. Here, it is essential to give employees a sufficient degree of freedom, for example, through flat hierarchies and short decision paths.

In addition, we train our employees to identify problems early on, independently develop solutions, and make decisions. The basis for this is the trust and orientation of their own leadership skills. In addition, we practice a culture where mistakes are allowed, addressed and corrected, rather than staying silent.

It is important for our motto to be: A mistake is the start of a sustainable improvement process – and we want to anchor this understanding even more in our company, also by introducing Shop Floor boards.

In the media and at conferences, sustainability has not been discussed much; the focus has been on agility. Does the “agility hype” with project work, freelancers and greater individual responsibility overshadow sustainability?

The word “agility” is also on everyone‘s lips at Dürr. Particularly in the digitization of our products and services, the high dynamics of the market cause established methods to reach their limits. But the concept of “agility” is not fundamentally new:

Short planning cycles, flat hierarchies, working in teams with changing composition and a strong customer focus all existed in the past.

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So sustainability and agility do not contradict each other?

Exactly, we want to achieve sustainable goals through agile processes. Here, agile methods are a useful addition to existing tools. The requirement for this, however, is to involve your own employees and executives when introducing and developing working methods.

We want to achieve sustainable goals through agile processes.

Dr.-Ing. Jochen Weyrauch, chairman of the board of Dürr Systems GmbH

In addition to agility in the operative business, the general adaptability of a company plays a decisive role in the medium to long term. How do you manage to not only do everything right at Dürr, but also always the right thing?

Management must clearly communicate and put change into practice. This is vital for its success or failure. Change can only work if a company‘s own employees are actively involved in the process. A good example of agile change at Dürr is the development conference for establishing the IIoT platform ADAMOS during the summer of 2017. At that time, around 70 employees from 3 companies across all hierarchical levels sat at one table or in changing groups, and developed a common vision and shared tasks in a very short time.

Dr.-Ing. Jochen Weyrauch, chairman of the board of Dürr Systems GmbH

And how are sustainability and agility reflected in your day-to-day – as a Dürr board member and in your private life?

Personally, the exchange with and feedback from employees are very important to me. For this reason, I, for example, regularly invite a small group of people to breakfast meetings in a relaxed atmosphere. In my opinion, sustainable business management can only succeed if you know where the real problems lie.

Agility and sustainability in my private life has helped me with my now grown-up twins, my long-lived passion for automobiles and my love for aviation that has lasted for 25 years. 

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