Das Bild zeigt den beeindruckenden Konferenzsaal während des Best Practice Day. Die Teilnehmer sind in mehreren Reihen von Tischen und Stühlen untergebracht, die zur Bühne hin ansteigen. Der Saal ist gut gefüllt, und alle blicken aufmerksam nach vorne, wo Wilhelm Goschy, CEO der STAUFEN.AG, einen Vortrag hält. Sein Name und Bild sind prominent auf einer großen Leinwand hinter ihm zu sehen. Die stimmungsvolle Beleuchtung in warmen Tönen und die farbigen Lichtprojektionen an den Wänden verleihen dem Raum eine einladende und professionelle Atmosphäre. Auf den Tischen der Teilnehmer sind Wasserflaschen und Gläser bereitgestellt, was zur konzentrierten und geschäftigen Stimmung des Events beiträgt.

Best Practice Day 2024: Returning to Excellence  

July 8, 2024

When Staufen AG invites to a Best Practice Day, two things are certain: top-class speakers and great weather. 

This year as well, the 300 attendees were not disappointed. More than 100 attendees were drawn to the beer garden of Darmstadt’s “Braustübl” on the eve of the event in midsummer temperatures to see familiar faces and make new contacts. 

After the informal opening, the official congress program continued the next morning, and Staufen CEO Wilhelm Goschy had the pleasure of welcoming his guests.

Among other things, Goschy reported on his discussions with a medium-sized industrial company. Although the company had implemented a few digital cases with some success, it had not progressed beyond isolated solutions. The reason: According to its CEO, the company had let the Lean approach completely slide over the last few years. “Just as with this company, numerous enterprises have in the meantime suffered a loss of strength because they neglected their basic training,” warned Goschy. Just as in athletics, though, that strength is precisely the basis of their success. Goschy continued: “The discussion relating to either Lean or digital has also become obsolete. Both aspects are necessary, i.e. a digital strategy optimized on the basis of internal value streams.”

Willhem Goschy, CEO der Staufen AG

Willhem Goschy, CEO of Staufen AG

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Joachim Metternich, Leiter des Instituts für Produktionsmanagement, Technologie und Werkzeugmaschinen (PTW) an der TU Darmstadt

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Joachim Metternich, Head of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at TU Darmstadt

“Radically minimizing time losses is forcing us to rethink process” 

Fellow co-host Prof. Joachim Metternich, Director of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at TU Darmstadt, placed emphasis on the value stream. More specifically, end2end peak-performance value streams. “Peak performance is always achieved if you can resolve contradictions, such as between individual customer requirements and low throughput times,” Metternich explained.

His recommendation: “Always align your solution spaces with your process capabilities!” Yet, in order to achieve this, there is a need to adopt a new value stream perspective and look at information flows on top of material flows. Metternich added that this approach has enabled pump manufacturer Munsch, for example, to reduce the lead time for the production of base plates for chemical pumps by 90 percent. Metternich: “Radically minimizing time losses forces us to think in terms of processes and consequently to achieve operational excellence.” 

“Making Germany competitive again”

After this initial deep dive, Prof. Dr. Lars P. Feld turned the discussion back to the geopolitical level. Former economist and current director of the Walter Eucken Institute, he impressively illustrated the underlying conditions that the German economy is experiencing right now or will have to face in order to achieve operational excellence. In contrast to the general description of Germany as the “sick man of Europe”, Feld emphasized, for example, the advantages of mechanical and plant engineering over the competition in the USA and the better equity base of the private sector compared to previous crises. Nevertheless, the current economic policy involving high labor and energy costs coupled with tax and regulatory burdens has caused a great deal of uncertainty among companies.

His advice: ” We must tackle these issues if Germany is to become competitive again!” Geopolitically, Feld also spoke out in favor of cooperating with the USA and seeking dialogue with China.

Prof. Dr. Lars P. Feld, Direktor des Walter-Eucken-Instituts

Prof. Dr. Lars P. Feld, Director of the Walter Eucken Institute

Dr. Marcus Ewig, Geschäftsführender Direktor bei der Rhenus Automotive SE

Dr. Marcus Ewig, Managing Director at Rhenus Automotive SE

“There is a risk of losing a core industry” 

Dr. Marcus Ewig, Managing Director at Rhenus Automotive SE, highlighted the fact that the time factor plays a decisive role in transformation processes, using the automotive industry as an example.

Ewig fears that Europe is holding back the transformation too much and risks falling behind China in matters of low-cost e-mobility and battery technology. “We face the threat of a gap that is impossible to close and the loss of a core industry,” warned Ewig. In his view, four initial steps are necessary to regain a stable state in time: expand the dialog between politics and industry, launch a productivity offensive, reduce excess regulation and develop a uniform narrative.

“Focus, focus, focus!”

Dr. Mark Hiller, CEO of Recaro Holding, has experienced first hand what it means when an entire industry goes into a tailspin in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whereas his company, the market leader for economy class aircraft seats, had previously gone from record to record with an average annual growth rate of 13%, things went downhill rapidly between 2019 and 2021 with a decline of 40%. The fact that Recaro maintained its ability to act despite the “biggest crisis in the company’s history” had a simple reason. Hiller had geared his strategy towards a possible decline in sales even before the pandemic, in spite of record figures, and imposed a hiring freeze, for example, in the face of resistance. Although, according to Hiller, Recaro could still improve at interpreting weak signals, thanks to the success factors of team (e.g. new career paths), customers (innovation workshops), strategy (maintaining the footprint) and leadership (thinking long-term and acting quickly), Recaro has gotten back on track for growth. Hiller’s motto: “Focus, focus, focus!”

Dr. Mark Hiller, CEO der Recaro Holding

Dr. Mark Hiller, CEO of Recaro Holding

Max Schlengsag, der Gründer des Start-ups Futurised

Max Schlengsag, founder of the start-up Futurised

“We talk a lot about artificial intelligence, now it’s about taking action” 

While Recaro’s roots date back to 1906, Max Schlensag did not establish his startup Futurised (AI-based document processing and smart chatbots and assistants) until 2021, at the age of 18.

With his authentic and direct demeanor, Schlensag, who successfully attracted Carsten Maschmeyer as an investor in the TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen”, also impressed the audience in Darmstadt. “We talk a lot about artificial intelligence, now it’s about taking action,” the founder called on established companies to boldly embrace change.” “AI will not replace people, but people with AI will replace people without AI,” said Schlensag, quoting Harvard professor Karim R. Lakhani.

“The high-five gesture is not really feedback”

However, technology also has its limits as far as leadership is concerned. “Just because you’re brilliant behind a laptop doesn’t make you a good manager,” warned Martin Andersen, Country Director Central Europe at Amazon Logistics, in the final sessions of the Best Practice Day 2024.

His company consistently relies on structured onboarding and development plans for new managers alongside virtues such as punctuality and politeness to ensure the success of a high-performance organization like Amazon with an average of 30 different nationalities at each location. Most importantly, managers at Amazon must be able to give feedback. Andersen: “The high-five gesture is not really feedback. Globally, our motto is: listen to understand, not to respond.”

Martin Andersen, Country Director Mitteleuropa bei Amazon Logistics

Martin Andersen, Country Director Central Europe at Amazon Logistics

How to understand ourselves better and not take ourselves too seriously

Extreme athlete Joey Kelly encouraged us to motivate ourselves for eight Iron Man races in one year, and Dr. Roman Szeliga, specialist in internal medicine and co-founder of CliniClowns, winked and explained how we can use humor to find everything half as bad or twice as good.

Joey Kelley, extreme sportsman (left in the picture) and Janice Köser, host of the Best Practice Day (right in the picture)

Dr. Roman Szeliga, specialist in internal medicine and co-founder of CliniClowns

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