Lean Transformation at the Headquarters of the Transdev Group
“We no longer look for who is to blame, but rather for solutions.”
In order to achieve a cultural change towards continuous improvement at the headquarters of the Transdev Group, located southwest of Paris, Staufen AG first familiarized all 400 employees with the fundamentals of Lean Management through a “Lean game”. Ten people were trained as internal Lean consultants, so that in the future, they can assist their colleagues with their in-depth knowledge of Lean methods. At the same time, management training sessions were carried out with 80 executives to clarify their (key) roles in the cultural change and to develop expertise. Lean Principles formed the foundation for the orientation of the Lean Transformation.
In addition to the training courses, workshops on waste and pilot projects for process improvement were carried out very quickly. Current Lean projects range from error reduction in accounting, to Shop Floor Management in the HR department, to simplifying purchasing ordering processes and improving new employee onboarding. Processes in top management – from scheduling to strategy implementation – now follow Lean principles. During implementation, Staufen AG accompanied the management and the internal consultants as coaches with the goal of ensuring their ability to continue the Lean Transformation on their own.
Transdev Board Members Christian Schreyer (Strategy and Performance) and Clément de Villepin (Human Resources) explain in an interview how Lean Management has changed day-to-day work at the corporate headquarters and which employees find it particularly hard to leave their comfort zone.
Mr. Schreyer, as longtime Head of German Operations at Transdev, you brought Lean Management to its headquarters in France. Did you have to do a lot of persuading among your colleagues on the board?
Schreyer: Of course, we discussed it in detail, but in the end we all agreed that we wanted to be a company that, firstly, trusts its employees and, secondly, trusts each individual to achieve a great deal. From my point of view, Lean is exactly the right answer for not only ingraining a new philosophy in a company but also making it more successful in the long term.
de Villepin: Above all else, it was important to us to establish a stable and long-term system, from which every single employee benefits, even on a personal level. Of course, we also had expectations for improved performance, but that should not be achieved by applying more pressure, but instead through greater commitment and stronger identification. Both can be achieved when employees see how processes become easier through workshops and projects – not being asked to do more, but the right thing.
In tangible terms, how do you achieve such a change in corporate culture?
de Villepin: It starts with the meetings. We replaced long discussions with structured agendas and rules. The positive consequences of this were that colleagues not only showed up on time to meetings, but also paid much more attention while there.
Schreyer: Moreover, not as many decisions are being delegated upwards. Employees now know what exactly they are allowed to decide and thus take advantage of this scope for decision-making. This is closely linked to the end of a “culture of blame”. We no longer look for who is to blame, but rather for solutions. For this aspect, reflecting with the coaches was a great help. After all, we all had to work on our behavior – and continue to do so.
you would think twice about leaving a company where you are appreciated and have the power to make your own decisions.
Are there measurable factors for Lean success?
Schreyer: Definitely. In all companies where Lean Management is consistently implemented, there are significantly fewer sick days and employee turnover is decreasing. Because you would think twice about leaving a company where you are appreciated and have the power to make your own decisions.
But there are always employees who do not like making decisions.
de Villepin: Right. This mainly affects the middle management, which often finds it difficult to take on their new role in a “Lean enterprise”. Therefore, we will place a very clear focus on this in the future.
Schreyer: Incidentally, this is not a typically French phenomenon. We also had to deal with it in Germany. I always compare it to a birdcage. You can open the door of the cage, but then you have to use your own wings to fly. Many “middle managers” struggle to leave their comfort zone and take on more responsibility.
Why is it so important for you to introduce Lean here at the headquarters, not just in the indirect areas (purchasing, HR, etc.) and at the employee level, but also in the day to-day work of the executive board?
Schreyer: Leading by example. After all, you cannot credibly introduce Lean into corporate departments and national subsidiaries if you yourself continue to play by very different rules. It does no good to use a crowbar, but instead you have to convince others through your own actions. On the board, for example, we work on implementing our strategy according to the system of Shop Floor Management.
de Villepin: We make it clear that Lean is not just an operational issue, but that it helps us to grow together as a whole. You see, for a company that transports millions of people every day with its buses and trains, customer focus is the most important factor for success. And our operational colleagues around the world, as our customers, have very specific expectations of the headquarters, which we take very seriously.