Ten Steps towards agile value creation

Corona threw us for a loop. The pandemic forced us to react quickly and adapt our processes, especially in manufacturing companies. So we reorganized ourselves in a very short time. Office life became home office, new shift schedules were created and in some cases entire production systems were changed so that the focus could be placed on urgently needed products. And: We were successful. Germany responded flexibly and agilely to the challenge.

With the right attitude and design principles, we are able to adapt. There are many innovations and technologies that support us in shaping. Now we have to stay tuned and shape the crisis into an opportunity. That is why we have summarized the ten steps to agile value creation in a compact way.

1. corporate culture as a basic prerequisite for changeability

Learn to see change as an opportunity with the right mindset and enter new paths for a continuous improvement process. Mindset has a decisive influence on how you deal with the crisis. Focus on the opportunities and creatively look for solutions. You have the chance to change your product portfolio, offer new services or adapt your processes.

2. holistic individual

Demonstrate a concrete common goal for strategic management and exemplify the mindset. Give your employees the freedom to individually design the path to the goal. You will be surprised how many constructive and agile implementation possibilities arise. The only important thing is that you protect your employees and take appropriate safety measures.

3. self-organization needs leadership

Motivate and support your employees to take responsibility and make decisions. These days, we depend on employees to organize themselves. To prevent chaos from reigning, good leadership is critical.

4. proactively avoid fake news

Communicate openly, understandably and at eye level to create a trusting basis for collaboration in turbulent times. Fake news is spreading like wildfire these days, unsettling employees. Clearly addressing the workforce ensures that information is transparent. Good communication leads to a faster/better response.

5. maze of information

Reduce complexity of required knowledge and ensure availability independent of people to gain speed and sustainability. Due to the pandemic, there may be a high level of sickness and key employees may be absent. Individual employees often have knowledge that is not centrally accessible.

6. highly qualified employees

Use your employees according to their skills and develop them strategically. Your employees are your most valuable resource. Well-trained employees are particularly vital in times of crisis. Appreciation is the keyword. It should continue beyond the crisis.

7. transparency in the fight against time

Now you can make processes and information about resources and requirements transparent so that you can find the right adjustments and readjust the production system quickly and at any time. Particularly in the current bottleneck situation, it should be easy to uncover deficits that would otherwise have gone undetected, for example, due to excessive inventories.

8. quality before quantity

Select the right agility levers for the desired adaptability individually with the help of smartly defined goals and an intelligent key performance indicator system. Not every lean method will make the company leaner and more productive. It depends much more on the targeted selection of measures and methods in the context of a holistic optimization.

9. Innovative technologies

Use digitalization as an enabler for agile design principles for your old familiar processes. We are already familiar with home offices, online ordering, digital learning platforms and contactless payment. But there are still countless new technologies in the field of digitalization that can make our everyday lives as well as production easier. Additive manufacturing can be used, for example, to produce urgently needed protective equipment.

10. Logistics as a decisive competitive factor

Logistics is largely invisible but significantly responsible for making the value creation system work. New logistics concepts can make planning, control and networking more flexible and adaptable. In this way, continuous supply can be ensured – even in times of crisis.

The last few weeks have turned some mindsets and standard processes upside down and brought an agile approach to light. Now we should stay tuned and maintain a solution-oriented approach even after the crisis.

Our Expert

Christina Radtke
Christina Radtke
Fraunhofer-Institut für
Materialfluss und Logistik