Ruhmann Q&A


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Ruhmann Q&A

  1. 1. Maximizing flow in operations has been a hot topic for many years, but manycompanies struggle with increasing flow across their respective functionaldisciplines. Pharma IQ conducted an interview with Nick Ruhmann, ContinuousImprovement Leader and Certified Master Black Belt at BD Medical, Diabetes Care,to get insights on eliminating silos across functional lines.Amber Scorah: Can you first clarify for us – what are the symptoms of silomanagement?Nick Ruhmann: Silo management has many symptoms, most of which are painfullyvisible to everyone except those people actually in the Silo! Symptoms such as: - People organized into departments specifically by functional roles - Departments measured by metrics that only reflect the success of their specificfunction(s) - Lack of standard and well followed methods to share learning and root causeanalysis across departments - Problems are rarely highlighted and brought to the surfaceAmber Scorah: What are the causes and effects of silo management?Nick Ruhmann: Organizing people based on function or skill set is a completely intuitiveidea and one thats been around a long time. Most organization are arranged / act in a"silo" manner to some degree or another. In smaller companies or organizations we findthis really doesnt have any negative effect. The silos arent deep enough to keeppeople from informally interacting and working across boundaries. Larger companies,and especially modern companies with the ever increasing complexity that comes withthe modern world are creating massively deep silos of functional expertises that act andbreath as their own entity, oblivious to the results / needs of other departments andperhaps even their parent company. This creates a solution inefficient, competingrelationship between groups that should instead be sharing solutions and workingtowards common goals.Amber Scorah: What can leadership do to counter this problem?Nick Ruhmann: While there is some degree of horizontal formal organization that canbenefit a company, this alone is not the answer. Rearranging people formally on an orgchart or in a building will simply create another set boundaries between those sharingfunctional expertise! The answer is not to avoid silo management, but provide skills andinstill behaviors that countermeasure the negative aspects. For example, giving
  2. 2. departments common objectives across silos and when a problem occurs, we need tonot just fix the problem, but SHARE every problem and its solution acrosssilos....religiously.Amber Scorah: What problems did your company face, and were you able toovercome them?Nick Ruhmann: All of them, and some days, some weeks we overcame. Other timeswe slipped, but not as far. Each company Ive worked for has experienced this issue toone degree or another, and likely always will. It is not a one time countermeasure toinstall and walk away from. It is constant work, dedication to continue goodcommunications and behaviors, and willingness of managers to be leaders across theorganization.Nick RuhmannContinuous Improvement Leader and Certified Master Black BeltBD Medical, Diabetes CareMr. Ruhmann will be a speaker at the upcoming IQPC Compound Management &Integrity 2011 Conference, September 26 to 28, 2011 in Philadelphia. For moreinformation visit: or