One vision, one direction: the path to continuous improvement

With guidance of Möbius, BASF gathered all these initiatives in a single vision towards operational excellence.
Luc Baetens

With their intellectual flexibility, the Möbius consultants succeeded at developing a customized solution in close cooperation, starting from the existing situation and adapted to the corporate culture.

Philip Buskens, Vice President Verbund Site Development & Optimization
BASF Antwerp

Strategic challenge

In order to meet the challenges posed by increasing globalization and competition, the BASF group declared its intention to embrace the concept of operational excellence within the company in the long term and therefore a vision towards operational excellence has to be developed.

Initiatives to accomplish this operational excellence have been set up in recent years, along with a great deal of attention and technical support for creating, expanding and strengthening continuous improvement teams in the product environment.

With guidance of Möbius, BASF gathered all these initiatives in a single vision towards operational excellence.


One Vision – Creating a chemical reaction

As the objective was a single, broadly-supported vision, it was drawn up on the basis of co-creation. Stakeholders throughout the entire organization have been brought on board through interviews, gemba walks and world café work sessions.

Working on the basis of the 10 Shingo principles, a single powerful BASF operational excellence vision was created, setting in motion a chemical reaction to achieve the following goals:

  • Facilitating everyday improvement initiatives.
  • Achieving business objectives on safety, quality, costs and the development of employees.
  • Making cross-departmental business processes more efficient.

A powerful framework based on the Shingo Guiding Principles

The following basic premises were used to draw up the vision:

  • Leadership: Managers must be convinced and personally committed in order to achieve sustainable results.
  • Holistic vision: all initiatives must be aligned with and reinforce each other.
  • Top-down design: it is necessary to create a sense of urgency about business objectives and ensure that objectives do not become cannibalized.
  • Bottom-up design: this means creating a culture of improvement anchored in the organization, with improvement as ‘part-of-the-job’.

Continuous improvement

To roll out the vision in the organization, the current continuous improvement team must be positioned correctly and given the ammunition they need. The team members are coached to adopt lean techniques using a tandem approach: demonstrate – do together – do it yourself. Along with a data driven Six Sigma philosophy, the culture of continuous improvement leads to a focused and methodological approach of both production and administration processes.


Good cooperation has led to the following results:

  • One broadly-supported vision and roadmap: there is a clear direction with regard to operational excellence in the long term, which includes guiding principles and an underlying program, supported by the whole management.
  • A broad support base: a high degree of involvement and good will has been created for the further roll out of operational excellence initiatives within the entire organization.
  • Incentive processes are aligned: guidelines for the process/system to encourage employees to contribute ideas.
  • A well-oiled lean team: team work within the lean team is more efficient (introduction of day starts, 5s actions, team boards, visualization).
  • Practice what you preach: the lean team has fully embraced the ‘walk the talk’ principle and can now spread this throughout the rest of the organization.

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