Interface, based in LaGrange, Georgia, USA and the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of modular carpets, kicked-off its new sustainability business strategy Mission Zero in 1994, established by its chairman and CEO. As part of the Mission Zero, Interface also launched the Lean Product Development Journey aiming to continuously improve the end to end product development process to reach the Mission Zero’s goal by 2020.
Interface committed to assign resources and time to its employees to implement a continuous improvement cycle, which is a collaborative process enabling strong interactions and knowledge transfer between the Design Studio and Pilot Plant to find opportunities and implement improvement actions weekly.
Interface’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 floor covering that combines the appearance and texture of traditional soft floor covering with the advantages of a modular carpet system. Interface is maintaining its position among top sustainability leaders due to its business strategy focusing on sustainability through Mission Zero strategy integrating people, process, product, place, and profits.
Mission Zero (Ray C. Anderson, 1994) “To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence”
Interface strongly acknowledges the contribution of continuous improvement initiatives to its ability to reach the goal of Mission Zero by 2020. The entire improvement process at the Design Studio and Pilot Plant is a collaborative process. Development teams accepted lean as their own and started to use it on a day-to-day basis to pursue improvements. The skill of waste identification was embedded in their day-to-day work and they learned how to hear the voice of the process and identify root causes. To leverage the employees’ knowledge and experience to develop new continuous improvement project, a weekly improvement meetings were initiated resulting in 10% of Custom Design Studio members working time being assigned to continuous improvement activities.
Several different goals were set for the Custom Design Studio one of them being: to elevate the group skills to a higher level.
PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT (PDCA) is a four-stage approach for continually improving processes, services, or products. It is conducted in four stages described on Interface example:
Weekly improvement meetings offer the opportunity to discuss the current state of performance shared informally within a PLAN stage. The team creates an action plan to improve the process and assigns roles required to do so integrating and aligning team members and function experts.
The action plan is created and followed through the DO stage, where an individual or a team of designers supported by function experts follow the action plan to improve the process or skill identified.
Improvement results are presented during weekly meetings where challenges, success and future steps are collaboratively defined.
If the improvement was achieved, during weekly meetings the team evaluates how could the new ways of working be standardized to enable the entire company to work better. If the improvement was not achieved, another PDCA cycle is launched.
PDCA Cycle in Interface
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.