Operational Expert in Lean Experience Factory
Today we are interviewing Nicole Belfanti, Operational Expert at Lean Experience Factory (LEF), training centre in San Vito al Tagliamento (Pordenone), created by the joint venture of McKinsey & Company and Unindustria Pordenone, Confindustria Udine, Polo Tecnologico di Pordenone, Consorzio Ponte Rosso, CCIAA di Pordenone.
We know that LEF – Lean Experience Factory – was established to support businesses towards streamlined organisational and productivity models. For people who aren’t familiar with these terms, could you explain in the simplest way possible the why of such a company?
NICOLE: LEF was born from a specific need: to give a concrete solution to the lack of competition in productive efficiency in this area, coming from different factors including a gap in skills. This awareness came from a survey carried out by McKinsey & Company.
LEF was created as a training centre of excellence, with a pratical approach based on learning by doing. This has enabled us to widen the understanding of the lean methodology and to increase participants’ retention rate of what they have learned in this training environment.
Across the years, what have you changed? How has the business evolved?
NICOLE: From 2011, we have evolved in mainly two directions. In terms of the themes addressed, we changed from the lean approach to agile working methods and then, in 2015, to industry 4.0 and the digital world.
The second evolutionary aspect has to do with our environment. We started with a factory and manufacturing, but since then we have tried to cover the entire value creation chain, controlling and analysing quality and logistics management. Furthermore, in 2020, the structure will be widened and opened to visitors. This is one way to be an experiential company, capable of showing the creation of a product from start to finish.
At LEF, you make and generate innovation against backgrounds which have been fixed for 20 or 30 years. Are you sure you are able to communicate and translate what you are doing effectively?
NICOLE: Understanding and speaking business jargon is obviously crucial. Our know-how includes the ability of translating complicated concepts for the audience that we have. In order to transmit knowledge and tools, we offer an experiential environment where you learn by making mistakes, without fear of leaving your comfort zone. An aspect which is fundamental for us is knowing who we are dealing with; this is why we always try to adapt our courses to the participants (business people, leaders, employees, etc.).
When we talk of digitalisation of businesses and innovation in processes, inevitably we need digital tools and software. In LEF, is it just about technology?
NICOLE: No, obviously not just that. Our approach is based on three dimensions. Technology is obviously one of them, but is not enough on its own. Our organisational aspect is also fundamental – being able to direct our team in an agile way and being able to give indicators which guide us towards obtaining results.
The third dimension is obviously about people. In order to engage them in transformative processes, they need a constant refining of skills (re-qualifying people is one of our mantras) and they need motivation for continuous improvement.
Only with these three factors can we create successful and sustainable transformation.
In your experience, how has a tool like Foxwin helped? And how could it be implemented within LEF and the collaborating businesses?
NICOLE: Foxwin has enabled people’s engagement in continuous improvement within the company. It has provided the possibility of suggesting ideas, seeing their impact and tracking progress of innovative projects (stages, delays, comments). And it guarantees a pleasant user experience.
At LEF, we introduced Foxwin in a project called Digital Office, where, technically speaking, it was integrated within an office to support production.
If I had to imagine a Foxwin 2.0, I could definitely see it being integrated with other digital tools, to provide an exchange of information. The other aspect I see would be the integration with tools outside of our organisation, with suppliers. In the next few years, analysing data flow from outside will be essential for innovation processes.