“Here, every executive becomes a multiplier” – thyssenkrupp

Leadership and Organizational Development

Dr. Arnd Köfler, Member of the Executive Board, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG

Dr. Köfler, with the introduction of its own production system, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG has become an absolute pioneer in the steel industry. What was the reason for establishing a concept, which is common in mechanical or automotive engineering, in the process industry?

We have, of course, been successfully utilizing the tools of Lean Management for many years. However, we did not yet have a consistent concept for combining this process excellence with leadership excellence. In the past, for example, management development did not take place in a direct operational context, but rather detached from it. In the future, however, coaching and training will always have a concrete connection to the shop floor.

What was the biggest challenge in developing and introducing the thyssenkrupp production system?

Definitely our size. At thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, we have a total of 27,000 employees. Even if “only” the first step encompasses the areas of production and maintenance, these are enormous dimensions. Therefore, the system was developed and adjusted with Staufen AG in six learning factories at the same time, in order to be able to introduce the production system in all factories at the same time.

Where are you now?

After about one and a half years of preparations, we are now in the roll-out phase, which started at the beginning of 2019.

And how are things looking so far?

Very positive. We receive feedback from many employees that they now feel much more understood, informed, and integrated in the decision-making process. Communication now takes place more regularly and with more commitment – from the executive board to the shift workers.

Is this new culture of communication also reflected in key figures?

Absolutely. A very insightful seismograph, for example, are the figures on occupational safety. Here, we already see a significant improvement.

After good experiences in production and maintenance, expanding the production system to the functional and indirect areas is the next step, right?

We have already integrated a few production-related functional areas into the production system at the learning factories. Therefore, after completing the roll-out in production and maintenance, the other functional areas will be next. Implementation is taking place very systematically, step by step. Our clear goal: In the end, the production system will become a company system that encompasses all areas and functions. 

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