‘Lean’ production is more than applying tools and learning new Japanese words. It’s a relentless focus on reducing waste and a passion for refining processes.
My background is industrial engineering – my father was an engineer who inspired me in many ways, so choosing engineering was an easy decision. For me, technical operations is one of the coolest places to be; particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, where we bridge between the work of great scientists, and millions of people in need.
Every day we make sure great inventions and innovations are made available, and that we can be trusted and relied on. Every day, we are part of a solution to someone in need.
That comes with a huge obligation, and working to do that in the best possible way is very meaningful and engaging to me.
At Roche, we have ambitious goals to deliver double the benefit to patients at half the cost to society, and that requires greater speed and efficiency across the supply chain.
Biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes are highly complex. They demand precision and excellence, and the continuous journey of improvements is driven in a highly disciplined manner.
We have a responsibility to make sure that patients can trust and rely on us to consistently deliver the highest quality – while also doing what’s right for our planet, our partners and our employees. This goes beyond just doing the job. This is a personal commitment and passion for all of us.
I am new to Roche, but not new to biopharmaceutical production and lean production. My lean journey is a long one already, and I continue to be excited about the improvements we can make when we focus on the core of our processes and strive to master them to perfection. I am learning all the time – and I expect this journey to continue at Roche.
I’ve learned over the years that lean is not just a matter of applying or learning those tools, or even learning new Japanese words. Lean is very much a mindset of embracing and understanding a culture with relentless focus on the core of the process: What actually delivers value? What unnecessary complexities do we add, and how can we eliminate them?
Over time complexity grows, and what seemed a simple solution to a problem in the past may become a self-inflicted complexity when scaled. Sometimes we even forget the original intention of a process. Stepping back and rethinking our processes with fresh eyes is often the path to new and better ways. This is particularly true at a point in time where new technological and digital solutions can help remove complexity.
Waste can sometimes be intellectual, in the form of over-processing, or having too many people making decisions or analyzing the same data. Are we collaborating and complementing each other’s efforts, or are we working in silos? Collaborating seamlessly across the value chain, sharing the same purpose and ambitions, is contributing to waste elimination in this dimension. And it allows us to understand the bigger picture.
When we look at lean operations that do this best, we see it lifts all levels of the organization. I believe those who do this best have a passion for reducing waste that’s ingrained in the culture – there are hundreds of ongoing experiments to change the condition of things. I find that really inspiring, because it means there is trust and collaboration. People feel confident to push the boundaries, and even more important, are genuinely curious about new perspectives.
Much of this mindset comes from leaders: How can we help people close to the process succeed through coaching, asking the right questions, enabling, stimulating and challenging? When we create a mindset where people can be daring and are seeking new ways, we know we can do anything. I believe leaders get the organisation they deserve, and if we do not see the right behaviours we must ask ourselves what we can do better.
I'm generally a very optimistic person. I believe that at all points in time, our opportunities are so much greater than our limitations. And that makes me want to be ambitious with the teams and organizations that I am part of – our success is guided by our willingness to learn and invite new perspectives and ideas from our colleagues and partners.
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