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Sustainability strategy leading lean product development improvements at Interface


Sustainability strategy leading lean product development improvements at Interface

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. Due to commitment to Mission Zero, Interface is maintaining its position among world’s sustainability leaders and improving its products and processes.

Continue reading to get more insights in Interface sustainability strategy that powered introduction of lean in product development.

InterfaceInterface is the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of modular carpet, headquartered 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.

Interface is maintaining its position among top sustainability leaders due to company’s business strategy focused on sustainability through Mission Zero strategy concentrated on 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”


A strategy for Interface’s future was initially set in 1994 with Ray Anderson (Chairman and CEO) starting the company’s commitment to Mission Zero. The entire organization has continuously improved to satisfy the conditions for Mission to succeed. Sustainability became an often used word that is deeply embedded to behaviours of employees and is part of their day-to-day focus either by developing new solutions for the customers or streamlining internal processes to achieve the goal of Mission Zero by 2020.

Interface relies on enterprise sustainability model encompassing a comprehensive view of the entire product lifecycle. All internal processes, people and capital are tightly linked with sustainability values guiding the organization in circular way to provide best possible solutions for the community, market customers, suppliers and the Earth.


Interface’s sustainability model.

Strong leadership commitment which engages teams for continuous improvement, creates and supports an open, non-threatening environment, as well as an inviting environment for innovation, is part of Interface. The organization bases its work on people and believes that “the good of the person is more important than the good of the company”. The organization and its leaders consider that it is important to understand what people want, and build on people’s strengths to create a sustainable organization and follow its mission.

Interface has in the past achieved several sustainability successes that redesigned commerce. One of the key success stories is the innovative TacTiles® solutions. TacTiles are small adhesive-backed squares that connect carpet tiles securely to form a floor that “floats” to improve flexibility, easier replacement and long-term performance without permanent adhesion to the subfloor. The product is a result of research and design using lean and sustainability concepts to reduce the environmental footprint and waste generated during the process, to save space and to reduce transport costs compared to previously used glue adhesives. TacTiles have been imitated and adopted across the industry as a good practice of carpet tile installation, fulfilling Interface’s mission of redesigning commerce while leading by example.


TacTiles (Source: http://www.interface.com/US/en-US/about/modular-carpet-tile/TacTiles-Glue-Free-Installation)

Book 2017 - Mockup 01 (small-900px)

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.


Interested to become a member?


About the Authors


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 a 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.

Myrna Flores

Lean Analytics Association

Dr. Flores has over 20 years of experience collaborating as an 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.

Doroteja Maklin
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