Lithuanian Businesses Move Forward and Seek Excellence

2017 06 20

This was the 3rd time that Baltic Lean Forum 2017, the largest conference dedicated to Lean and efficiency, invited Lithuanian business representatives to share their knowledge and get acquainted with the global trends. Event participants discussed the prospects: efficiency alone is not enough and today’s organizations must move forward. As companies of the 21st century seek to find solutions to business processes excellence, the conference focused on the ways how to achieve it. Ideas and practical examples were presented by the members of the largest Lithuanian companies, such as Circle K Lietuva, Girteka, Vilniaus degtinė as well as guests from abroad. 

This year’s event welcomed over 300 business representatives from the whole Lithuania. Regardless of a business sector or field of activity, the most common obstacles to every day process improvement and increase of efficiency are certain mistakes made during the implementation of changes in an organization. A foreign guest speaker Bob Plummer specifically talked about how to avoid obstacles in improving efficiency. Presently a Honsha consultant, Bob Plummer has been the president of one of the divisions at NUMMI automobile manufacturing company (owned by Toyota Corporation) for 15 years. His presentation focused not only on the structural changes but also on the strategic need for the system. He also emphasized an exceptionally significant role of employees.

According to B. Plummer, an organization which has chosen to change with Lean must have leaders who genuinely understand the essence of Lean. They do not delegate actions that require their leadership on the change process but rather lead the smooth implementation by own example. Most errors can be avoided by consistently implementing the developed strategy, complying with the elements of the tactical plan, and most importantly, by constantly communicating the information. Bob Plummer particularly stressed that employees are the key element to successful implementation of performance-driven changes. According to the consultant, it is very important to free people’s potential, i.e. to create an environment where employees would grow, be willing to improve themselves and their daily activities as well as be able to effectively solve emerging problems. When this goal is achieved, members of organizations find themselves on the straight path to continuous improvement.

Do not stop if you managed to avoid mistakes. Modern companies that implement business process management systems are looking forward and aim for the best possible result. “It is the third time that we have convened leaders to discuss the opportunities and perspectives of their organizations. A fair number of companies have become aware of the Lean system over the recent years and some of them are already implementing the chosen system methods and enjoying positive results. Therefore, this time we aimed higher and talked about business processes excellence,” said one of the hosts of the event Vidas Petraitis, Head of Lean.lt and a practitioner of Lean system. He stressed that business processes excellence is a set of principles, systems, and tools designed for a continuous improvement of business, with the aim to reduce waste and increase customer value. “The goal is simple: to organize business processes so that they create maximum value. Simplify, stabilize, standardize, and automate them. Time or financial savings may stimulate successful development, which is the basis for continuous improvement of any organization,” summarized Vidas Petraitis.

Event participants also discussed the role of a leader as one of the most important conditions for a constantly improving organization. An interactive discussion, moderated by Vidas Petraitis was held at the Baltic Lean Forum for the first time. It involved Darius Kriukas, Development Director at Girteka, Irmantas Rajunčius, Managing Director at BOEN Lietuva, and Daiva Pivoriūnienė, Retail Sales Director at Circle K Lietuva, who covered the most important aspects of the topic. According to Irmantas Rajunčius, changes in any organization start with a leader and his or her decision to change, which helps everyone to strive for the set goals. Development Director at Girteka emphasized the importance to pursue better results. Processes should be improved not only in the face of a crisis but also as positive changes that start together with the development of a company. Girteka successfully managed their growth and reorganized their processes in an efficient and progressive way by implementing Lean system. Daiva Pivoriūnienė contributed to the discussion by presenting examples of how Lean culture can spread: gas station staff, who got acquainted with and favorably accepted Lean system 11 years ago, have become a good example for the company’s management.

The second part of the event has focused on a deeper analysis of the problems and opportunities in specific companies. For the first time, the conference introduced a series of lectures intended exclusively for those who only start the implementation of Lean system: Lean.lt consultants shared their advice. Also Artiliux NMF, the largest manufacturer of electrical appliances, lighting and home decor products in the Baltic States, shared a practical example of Lean implementation, which allowed to save 250 thousand Euro in 24 months. Representatives of production companies also presented a few effective initiatives aimed to increase efficiency. New to the implementation of Lean three years ago, Axis Industries may currently boast about a very high level of employee involvement: 476 employees are actively involved in the change (102 of them are managers) who suggest over 1,000 Kaizen ideas per year. Konstantins Korobko, a guest from Latvia who is a Production Engineer at Schneider-Electric, raised a peculiar question “What do you do if your performance reaches 116%?” and shared an extraordinary good practice of his company.

Managers, who shared the peculiarities of the implementation of Lean system in the service sector and administrative processes, emphasized the importance of continuous monitoring of performance indicators, reduction of production time of new products, and the benefits of standardized work. There was a story about exceptional savings achieved through Standardized Work method, which attracted a full hall of conference participants. Jurgita Petrauskienė, Director of VSA Vilnius, surprised everyone with the changes inside her company. She estimated that the standardization of certain activities allowed her company to save as much as 70 thousand Euro in just one year.  Since then employees actively suggest changes. 84% of these changes have already been implemented.

This year’s conference had exceptionally many presentations with experiences from various companies. It indicates that Lithuanian businesses are increasingly getting interested in the global management practices. According to Vidas Petraitis, such meetings not only facilitate solutions to existing problems but also help find ways to developing efficiently managed organizations. These are small steps towards the approach that leads to continuous improvement and masterfully managed processes.