Northseafood Holland wins the Coin of Flevo for being the best innovative enterprise

2010 – NorthSeafood Holland from Urk received the Flevo Medal 2009 for best innovative company. The jury selected the company as the winner because the combination of results-oriented working with self-managing teams and an internal academy show that NorthSeafood Holland distinguishes itself as an innovative company in the field of workplace innovation. 

Why this is workplace innovation
The aim of NorthSeafood was not to work harder but to respond better and more flexible on the customers’ demands. To this end, self-managing teams were appointed who are responsible for the production process. From the beginning employees were involved in the change process, their ideas were taken seriously and they were made responsible for the realizing of them.

The changes have taken place in two steps. Firstly all activities were identified which did not generate added value. Wastes were minimized, allowing savings or improvements quickly and with little cost. In the second step, the production was adjusted to a higher level by investing in improvements.
To achieve this it was decided to an approach on three fronts simultaneously. First use is made of the so-called 5S method, a method that helps to organize the workplace in 5 steps: divorce, arrange, shine, standardize and finally stimulate and sustain the changes. Moreover simultaneously, a training is started; all staff (both production as well as office staff) were required to have an secondary vocational training  level 1 course. The course aims to provide a better insight into business processes and improvement techniques as a starter for the improvement of the organizational climate. After this initial training, employees can choose to follow further secondary education levels 2, 3 and 4. Just like the initial course this training is focussed on the production, quality and hygiene in NorthSeafood.
The third approach where Nortseafood started with, is to perform efficiency measurements on the production line. There have been done baseline measurements and staff have put forward improvement proposals for an increase in efficiency of 10%. The staff themselves are made responsible for the implementation of these proposals.
Characteristic of the approach is that the employees are involved in the changes constantly, and also the performers on the line itself got more responsibility. Middle management has given away power. Initially they were somewhat reserved, but now they see the advantages. Also, employees were not accustomed to do proposals for improvement. To get this far, much communication was necessary. Constantly it was checked whether the message had come through and the internal training has contributed. Furthermore there are new communication structures, making communication better, more structured and consistent.

This change process is a slow process. NorthSeafood takes the time and tranquility to take steps on their own pace and level. After a year Schenk (the technical director) noted that employees, have a better sense of the production process as a whole, partly through the internal training. This implies for example that if a machine is broken, an employee no longer waits until it is repaired, but looks if he or she can help elsewhere or might help to repair the machine. Schenk also notes that the mutual atmosphere has improved. There is a greater sense of belonging among the employees and the employees are more involved in the production process. He notices that now employees are allowed to develop and implement their own ideas, automatically there is more support for these changes. Also, the workstations are arranged more logically and clearly, enabling employees to work more efficiently.
Other concrete results can be found in the area of communication. There are pinned up one-point lessons on several places. These are brief work instruction of the most critical operations. These are hung on the spot where this operation is performed. Every week, operators and mechanics get together to discuss developments in the department. This is based on information that is kept up to date on the White Board. Even when it is busy these consultations are not beaten.

More information can be found at the company’s website:
Attached is the article: Nor vuren! Informatieboekje WCM’ (Attack! Information booklet WCM), 2009 by Northseafood Holland B.V.