Breaking Down Silos One Collaboration at a Time

Krones Inc. has been making the breaking down of silos a priority for the past year. Many different collaboration efforts have been made – and I would like to recap the year and tell you about some of the approaches.

One example of this on a larger scale is the Krones 2018 Employee Appreciation event. Each employee that attended the event was seated at random with employees from various departments. This allowed for employees to get to know each other.

Another example was through interdepartmental workshops. In one of these workshops, we focused on mapping out the current process for manual routing creation. Employees from departments from every part of the value stream participated by mapping out the current state, identifying the gaps in the process, and brainstorming solutions for the gaps to achieve a more efficient future state. Steve Heise, the second Shift Manufacturing Supervisor, had his doubts in the beginning of the workshop stating, “I thought it was going to be a monumental challenge to get multiple departments to come up with a new strategy for creating routings. I didn’t think it was going to work.” After meeting with the group for twelve weeks, the group finally came to a solution with an action plan on how to obtain their goals – and to show that the time they spent together was most valuable for all of them.

Steve Bui, now leading Manufacturing Process Management Department, commented after the workshop, “We understand everyone’s workloads and responsibilities. Communication is a lot more effective and it has become a more pleasant environment to work in.”  Steve Heise also offered advice for others who are looking to participate in a similar workshop, “Don’t assume you understand one another departments’ processes and roles, you will be shocked. Go into it with an open mind. Be as honest as possible about your process to make sure others in the company understand.”

Another workshop that included an interdepartmental team was a communication workshop. Aron Miller, Retrofits Project Manager, noticed there was a gap in communication between various departments. Instead of creating a more traditional value stream map, the team created a communication value stream map which mapped out ways people were communicating based what was needed. Overall the workshop was a success. This team also created an action plan to standardize the way employees communicated with each other for various projects. Aron Miller stated, “The biggest challenge I faced was not taking things personally and keeping an open mind because everyone has a tendency to say, ‘we’ve always done it this way’.”

Deb Zerzanek, LCS Spare Parts Overhauls Manager, also participated in a collaboration workshop. Deb welcomed collaboration and knew it was necessary to come to a solution for her team’s problem. When I asked her how she thought these workshops effected the breaking down of silos within the company she said, “If I would pick one thing it would be being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes to understand what other people and departments have to go through.”  Mark Schwartz, a member of another collaboration workshop on the Service process, agreed and said, “understanding the view from another’s perspective builds strong and open relations.” All these employees participated in different collaboration workshops, but all had the same thing to say: keep an open mind and learn to be more understanding of others’ points of views.