1st Operational Excellence Conference was held in Cairo last October 2016. The conference organized by Symbios consulting and sponsored by a number of prominent companies in the field of pharmaceuticals as Misr Pharmacies and Pfizer, manufacturing as Egybel and JOTUN, FGMC as Mars & Egypt Foods, Al Ahram Security Group, and included sessions run by distinguished speakers from JOTUN, Pfizer, Dabur sharing real life change experience implementing operational excellence through LEAN and 6 Sigma.  

The one-day conference, rich in its content addressed successful stories of change management using OPEX. Afternoon sessions run by the OPEX Guru, Mr. Joseph Paris, founder of Operational Excellence Society, Mentor, Keynote Speaker and Lecturer who addressed OPEX change process from planning, going through gaining management buying in, expectations during the change process, regular milestones and so many interesting details. Mr. Paris sessions tackled the psychological aspect in getting teams working together instead of silos, technical or engineering processes that would relate to operational and manufacturing managers to leadership and strategic aspect of the Effective OPEX process. 

The conference was concluded by a panel formed from two prominent professionals; Eng. Marwan Mahmoud from Egybel and Eng. Ahmed Aref from Al Ahram Security Group sharing their challenges and aspirations in steering and incorporating Operational excellence into their organizations and Eng. Shereen Mosallam from Symbios consulting organizer of the conference and key founder of OPEX Egypt Chapter.

JOTUN Egypt—Mr. Tor Halto-Johansen  , the Managing Director spoke about Jotun strategy taking the company into new heights and  his interesting journey in Egypt ; going through 2 revolutions the accompanied challenges of; the market dropping due to huge increase building materials prices. It was clear that the company was in a dire need for a new strategy which depends on: 1) taking the risk of increasing investment, 2) fundamentally hiring a competent  operational and marketing staff and 3) taking part of Iconic Projects in order to be remembered.  

The company steered a comprehensive change process starting from the business environment where a new modern plant was constructed in Ismailia city, a new headquarter near Road 90 in New Cairo replacing the old one in a shopping mall in Sheraton Heliopolis to a newly management team and leadership training across top and middle management. 

Jotun New True North -  Leading the Egyptian Painting Market and achieve over 1 billion sales in 2020

Winning Team through differentiation.  Let’s be different than our competitors, be looked at as leaders not followers.

Lessons learnt from Jotun Change Trip as summed up by Shereen Mosallam , is that you cannot improve before standardizing our processes . Another magnificent lesson is that Jotun employees were the ones who set the KPIs, thus committed to delivering and change.


 Pfizer Pharmaceutical —Mr.  Mohamed Shousha—Site RFT/Regulatory Manager | Pfizer Global Supply 

“Six Sigma will be the day to day work for everyone in Pfizer”, vision once communicated in 2004 by John Mitchell, Manufacturing president and became a reality ever since. 

A company believe in 6 Sigma and committed to development and sharing 11 years of success. The company adopted a concept called “Change Agent” at every site/branch where these agents qualified black belt are taking the responsibility of training their own site staff. 

The objective was clearly stated to have 1-2% black belt, 5-7 green belt and 100% orange or yellow belt for a team talking the same language of operational excellence concepts. However as turnover is higher in middle sector of employees the actual training targeted 15-20% of staff to have green belt training.

The 6 sigma projects results of over 4USD million savings and cost cut, improvement and what is called small wins were communicated along the way and recognition of projects were celebrated in share points.

Dabur Egypt — Mr. Dan Anjan , Supply Chain Manager

1 year in implementing LEAN Manufacturing following the need to change; in order to meet more demand and new products being launched. The company has an ISO certified Green field plant commissioned in 2012 in 10th of Ramadan city with 98% of workers Egyptians.

The key objectives of the LEAN project for Dabur Egypt are:

• create an operational excellence environment with best industry practices,

• Deal with complex and dynamic business environment; volume growth, new products etc..

• To survive in an ever changing  macro economic conditions,

• Reduce cost of production through efficiency improvements.

It’s only one year however impact has been realized at so many   levels; in the form of higher level of employee engagement, 12% increase in productivity, 9% reduction in production cost and the journey is still in its early days. 

Communication, on a monthly basis, of objectives and how it can be achieved resulted in people are talking in nos. Moreover, Commitment at all levels is the only way to maintain the success realized into the future

Anoth-er important topic covered by Mr. Anjan was the “8 LEAN WASTES” and more interestingly the 9th waste introduced by Dabur Egypt tackling Leadership role in reducing the gap between skills and behaviors, talking the walk, moving from problem solving to building capability.


5 Voices to Listen For LEAN 6 Sigma Projects 

Shereen gave insights from the Consultant’s perspective on reasons that drive any business organization to choose to implement LEAN or 6 sigma project which is to make PROFIT BY USING THE CORRECT PROCESS FROM THE 1ST RUN.

In order to set the Effective process there are 5 Essential voices you must listen to:

 Business Objectives as; delighting customers, reducing costs or wastes, cope with technology advances, retaining competent people, reducing production time, responding quickly, showing flexibility to market demands are all considered in LEAN and Six Sigma approach as both directly linked to company strategy, project financials and employee recognition and reward

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) Approach is dominant throughout all phases of the LEAN Project : …..1) Voice of Business , 2) Voice of Customer, 3) Voice of Actual  Process, 4) Voice of Employees , 5) Voice of Data

Giving example of “Facebook”, Shereen recommended considering Innovation instead of improvement as sometimes you need to go the extra mile and forecast demands. 


OPEX  EGYPT CHAPTER had the pleasure of the  distinguished participation of Mr. Joseph Paris; the recognized Thought Leader in Operational Excellence, International Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Mentor  who spoke after the break and soon got every one  engaged and intrigued by his speech.

Operational Excellence Society (OPEX) has become the center of gravity for operational excellence all over the world, the local chapter serves the local business communities directly . Below is a glimpse of many        interesting issues discussed. 

I) Operational Excellence …. A state of Readiness

If Operational Excellence is about 6 sigma why not just call it that? Mr. Paris gave a definition of     Operational Excellence as “ A state of readiness that is attained as the efforts throughout the organization    including all departments; HR, Finance, Operations , etc…”to reach a state of alignment between all departments and organization strategy, while organization culture being committed to” 

Every employee must feel committed and participating to the bigger image of the organization 

Climbing Mountain Stupid - How do we communicate? 

We tend to provide solutions while most of the time we just need to listen!!!!

• If we give a group a simple set of same instructions the outcome will still be varied !!!  (Fixed Input—different output).

• Best Producing Companies following LEAN and 6 Sigma have around 50% defect while the published target is usually 10% defect of total production but reality is a different thing. Although every piece of production met its specs. (Always there’s a room for improvement)

II) Operational Excellence …. A state of Maturity

In static state, no of leaders remain the same as well as practitioners, indoctrinated and un-indoctrinated

In a standard state, no's of people engaged in the process vary sometimes good to have or not important according to economic factors

A state of Maturity in Operational excellence mandates acceleration of corporate vision. It includes 3 phases 

1. Logistical; focus on the process  to get rid of barriers,, convey values into projects .

2. Tactical; focus on systems which is a collection of processes.  Act as Efficiency Experts.

3. Strategic; focus on organizational  Programs, Value Creators.

If not helping the CEO , you are not a priority for him . 

Guerrilla Transformation

Turning an Insurgency into a Movement - Corporate Culture

Mr. Paris highlights how corporate culture is usually set at any organization early days, he moved to understanding your team or people and realize that seldom change is generated from inside the organization. Its usually driven by a new management or responding to dramatic market changes.

Every Leader must consider the following in order to steer disruptors:

- Identify what is important to the company

This should originate directly from the Vision Statement

-Identify what is important to the people Not what you think is important, but what actually is.

-  Begin where the interests intersect.

 Mr. Paris gave an enlightening session on how to get the management support and ensure their buy-in throughout all phases of the project. So speak the language of your customer, speak the CEO language to gain his buy in. A program that lasts for 16-32 weeks starts with kick off meeting led by management, then learning and training activities to build the capability and allowing employees to  set KPIs themselves bearing in mind what success look like for their company and how it can be achieve. 

Operational Excellence; Enterprise Readiness Model

Phase I ; Program Definition & Preparation; Company Level & Each Business Unit Level

Executive Overview; Kick-Off Meeting: Project Development, Definition, Launch

Phase II ; Establish Objectives, OPEX Metrics and KPI’s, Set Audit-Points and Pass/Fail Criterion

Phase III ; Build Capability.

Phase IV; Building Readiness.

All previous phases entail review and debrief to all parties involved , correction /improvement across the process and even celebrating small wins to keep team motivated and engaged. Sometimes we make the right decision –and sometimes we make the decision right.” –Phil McGraw

It’s becoming vital to speed the effective decision making process.  Billion $ transactions /deal are done nowadays while having coffee !!.




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