5 Lessons from Bostik's Quality Culture Transformation [Case Study]

quality cultural shiftNo one can debate that effective quality management is essential to creating a customer-driven operation. And while investing in emerging technologies such as EQMS solutions has proven to drive rapid and quantifiable results in working toward this goal, it’s arguable that the culture in your organization is just as important, if not more so, for improving the quality of products and processes.

But how is this accomplished? What steps and initiatives must a company take to align its culture to meet the goals and objectives of continuously improving quality?

Providing perspective on this, LNS Research had the opporutnity in December 2013 to speak with Louis Cheung, Head of Quality & Supply Chain for the Americas Region of Bostik Corporation, a global adhesives supplier. In the conversation, Cheung shared his experiences with transforming quality culture and standardizing processes at his company to improve performance and create a more customer-driven operation.

Below, we'll share our key findings from this case study. The whole report can be downloaded here for a more in-depth analysis.

Shifting Culture and Building Effective Leadership  

Bostik is a division of French oil and gas giant, Total, S.A. With approximately 47 manufacturing sites and a workforce of around 4,800 people across 50 countries, its annual revenue exceeds $2 billion.

Although the company had strong quality processes, systems, and development expertise, due to its history of mergers and acquisitions, it faced a number of cultural challenges from this legacy stemming from a structural shift in the value chain and the diversity of customer practices and needs. Louis Cheung played a major role in this transformation. Below are five major lessons to take from his experiences.

1. Change Your Thinking and Approach

With a new CEO at the helm in 2010 focused on initiating a global company transformation, one of the overall goals at Bostik was to unify and reorganize company culture and streamline processes. The first crucial step was to engrain a change of perception around quality—from it being throught of as a “department” to a shared responsibility. Cheung explained that the company has an expansive, end-to-end view of quality that is always top-of-mind.

“We look at quality to be in everything that we do across the entire supply chain from the time that demand is identified,” said Cheung.

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2. Define and Cultivate Effective Leadership

Of the many important traits of effective quality leadership, Cheung believes the two most important in shifting culture are:

  • Unconditional accountability and responsibility
  • The ability to be a mobilizer for the entire organization

The “buck stops with me” mentality is vital in ensuring tasks are carried out. Leaders need to be continually searching for ways to improve their respective functions as related to suppliers and other functions in the value chain, as they are constantly in flux. The second bullet point refers to a “go-getter” confident in sharing his or her insight with others to act as an agent of change within the organization.

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3. Focus on Roles and Responsibilities, Not Titles

Bostik has moved away from traditional titles like “director” or “manager” and changed to ones based on the specific roles that leaders perform and are responsible for. Building on this concept, leaders’ evaluation and compensation is based more on span of influence than their number of direct reports. Additionally, the company has developed a formalized succession plan to ensure uninterrupted leadership.

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4. Extend Leadership Down to the Center of the Organization

In ensuring that the organizational focus on quality extends throughout departments, Cheung has also focused on extending leadership and decision-making to the center of the organization, rather than having the executive level dictate all decisions.

This means that contributions to thought leadership and best practices around quality and supply chain operations are expected to come from local management as well as the top level. Even when these leaders may not have direct reports into their roles, they are still required to guide and influence the organization’s Continuous Improvement initiatives.

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5. Enforce Your New Business Model with Proven Tools and Methodologies

Bostik has implemented a set of tools and training programs to support this cultural shift that are based on Lean, Six Sigma, and various inventory and project management tools to aid employees in cross-functional collaboration and executing the business plan.

Last year, the company created an Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) that staffed Lean, Six Sigma, and project management experts to be full-time agents of change within the company. The goals of the OCI are to develop future leaders in these programs and to extend the mindset of Continuous Improvement throughout the organization.

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Bostik Improvements in Quality Metrics to Date

Though Bostik is less than a year into this cultural shift initiative, Cheung noted a few examples of measurable improvements in the following areas:

  • Standard process capability (CpK)
  • New Product Request (NPR)
  • Increased inventory turn

Key Takeaways from Bostik

Transforming a quality culture is a lofty goal for sure, but it’s critical to achieving long-term goals and Operational Excellence. By instilling a mindset of unconditional accountability and shared leadership responsibility across organizational functions and supporting this with proven tools and methodologies, organizations can create an atmosphere of continuous improvement that results in better operational execution to meet business goals.

Cheung spoke at LNS Research's Global Executive Council in 2013. To find out more about our Global Executive Council Meetings, follow this link. The next meeting is scheduled for March 6, and is on the topic of managing supplier quality in today's complex global economy.

bostik quality management

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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