Interface is a modular carpet manufacturer from LaGrange, Georgia, USA that started its Lean Product Development Journey as part of the new sustainability business strategy, a Directive Mission Zero established by its chairman and CEO in 1994. To succeed in providing the most desired solutions to the customers, institutional knowledge is one of the most important resources the company needs. Interface has streamlined its processes with lean implementations and one of the important tools enabling teamwork and co-creation of knowledge is an internal social media platform used for cross functional collaboration.
Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of modular carpets has its headquarters in LaGrange, Georgia, USA.
The company’s modular carpet systems, marketed under the established global brands Interface and FLOR, utilizes carpet tiles cut in precise, dimensionally stable squares or rectangles to produce a floorcovering that combines the appearance and texture of traditional soft floorcovering with the advantages of a modular carpet system.
Speed of document and records creation within organizations is greater than ever and still growing exponentially. Companies, both large and small possess vast amount of unstructured information such as notes, documents, emails and web content that often results in disorder and creates confusion if the content is not tagged, versioned, controlled and managed in consistent global manner.
As firms become more geographically dispersed and face growing number of employees, suppliers and customers, functional knowledge management is vital for success. Lack of accessible knowledge combined with difficulties when searching contents and co-developing new ones result in repetitive actions on previously resolved issues that consequently affect profit impeding firms to be more competitive. Enterprises are facing greater risk from loss and misuse of knowledge as well as sensitive and relevant information required to accomplish tasks within different business processes to improve their performance. Moreover, there is a big opportunity for multinational firms to leverage results and findings of global projects and initiatives that have proven good results. Companies can increase their benefits by avoiding “reinventing the wheel” if they used processes and tools that can enable their employees to document, transfer and learn faster from previous expertise generated within the company.
Interface relies on enterprise sustainability model encompassing a comprehensive view on the entire product lifecycle. Vast amount of knowledge is created through processes supporting innovation and continuous customer value delivery which Interface learned to leverage. To encourage collaboration amongst its employees and co-creation of knowledge an internal functional knowledge-sharing space has been developed.
Loop is a social media platform, based on Jive SBS, where formal and informal information, data and knowledge is shared. Collaboration is encouraged by Top Management and occasionally encouraged from the CEO by sharing his knowledge and vision. While the IT department and co-innovation group work on the platform’s maintenance, several administrators with different permissions depending on their level and ownership of groups, take care of day-to-day activities and keeping discussions alive and on-topic. Knowledge created through the platform is saved and later extracted and added to knowledge repositories to be easily reused.
LOOP knowledge and collaboration platform at Interface
To enable powerful search options on the platform, users are trained in the tagging of published content. Project outcomes and lessons learned are saved and published using internally developed templates that simplify searches.
To encourage collaboration and engagement to knowledge sharing and reuse through social media, Interface uses gamification. Not only can posts be liked, commented or marked as requiring action, but every employee is also ranked through a points system and awarded a badge and title when a certain number of points is achieved. Award points can be gained through posting in discussions, leading discussions, commenting, liking content and cross-functionally collaborating in projects. Co-creation through social media is, for now, not formally awarded, nor is it a part of the annual staff performance appraisal; but through collaboration, employees enjoy gained recognition in their area and build informal networks in the organization.
Interface’s Best Practices are presented and described on more than 25 pages in the Lean Product Development Best Practices book. Interface’s chapter is only one out of the 10 chapters presenting the real-world application of lean product development in multinational companies.
The hard copy of the book with the 10 cases is available for only 74.99 EUR.
Interface’s Lean Product Development case is available digitally free of charge to our members.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Lean Analytics Association
Doroteja has 3 years of experience working on lean product development with background in mechanical engineering and ultra-precision technologies. She has worked with global organizations from various industrial sectors, either leading or supporting the development and introduction of bespoke lean innovation and new product development solutions.
Doroteja is interested in innovation capability development and over the past years she has developed several training courses to support organizations achieving quick and efficient knowledge transfer through customized simulated sessions.
Being a certified Service Design Thinking Facilitator she believes in “Doing, not speaking” and supporting developments of truly customer-centric products and services.Doroteja is a co-author of the Lean Product Development Best Practices book, and conference publications.
Billy Ingram is a Lean Product Development Director at Interface, learner, innovator and inventor. He specializes in new business model creation and sustainability re-engineering. He strives to build more sustainable business models through the practical application of innovation frameworks, improvement methodologies and socially responsible engagement practices.
Lean Analytics Association
Dr. Flores has over 20 years of experience collaborating as internal or external consultant in different manufacturing and services organizations, leading several initiatives related to Lean Thinking, Business Process improvement, Six Sigma, Supply Chain, Change Management, Open Innovation, Digital Transformation and Human Centered Service Design; providing also training and coaching.
She is co-founder and president of the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) and visiting scholar at the College of Management of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.
She carried out her Post-doc at EPFL collaborating at the Lean Product and Process (LeanPPD) FP7 European project from 2009 to 2013. She completed her PhD in 2006 at the Politecnico di Milano studying Open Innovation Models to enable Industry-University collaboration for innovation. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Systems in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Monterrey Tec (ITESM) in 1996.