When we talk about “industrial excellence”, we often think about great execution, high efficiency, outstanding performances, and so on – which is not wrong, but the idea behind benchmarking industrial excellence across industries goes far beyond these concepts. With the idea of clarifying the scope of industrial excellence, researchers from leading European business schools have developed a widely internationally acknowledged framework and assessment tool for “Management Quality”. Management Quality 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 the strategy 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 manufacturing or service firms) to achieve sustainable volume growth, superior financial performance and customer satisfaction by applying Management Quality to all core processes simultaneously.
With this in mind, the Industrial Excellence Award (IEA) competition was launched in France in 1995, and over the last 20 years, it has been extended to other European Union countries and Turkey. As of today, it includes eight countries (France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, the 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 is 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”. The Industrial Excellence Award fosters the creation and development of a unique learning environment and an exceptional network of European companies in order to support the sharing of best practices. Lessons learned from the Industrial Excellence Award can be applied to any industry or country and can be summarised 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 to ii) Supply Chain Collaboration and Integration to iii) Strategy Deployment and iv) Digitally-enhanced processes and data analytics.
Last fall, Infineon Technology (Germany) was awarded with the “Industrial Excellence Award Europe” during the 2017 IEA conference in Berlin. National champions, who also competed for the European Award, included Sonceboz (Switzerland), Daimler (Germany), Mahou San Miguel (Spain), Groupe Point Vision (France), Prysmian Group (Italy) and Ford Otosan (Turkey). Infineon stood out for its 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 at http://industrial-excellence-award.eu/home/). Which company will take the Award home this year?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Rita Maria Difrancesco is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marketing, Operations & Supply at EADA Business School Barcelona. Rita Difrancesco graduated in Engineering Management at Sapienza – University of Rome (Italy) and has a doctoral degree and post-doc from WHU –Otto Beisheim School of Management (Germany). Prior to joining academia, she worked in the fields of project management, IT consultancy and logistics. Her research interests lie in product returns management, online retailing, closed-loop supply chains and sustainability. She published and presented her work in journals and international conferences in Europe and in the US.