Reputation is like a calibre. Everything is done to make it work and function with precision. Then we work on its reliability over the long term. Today, excellence requires also the skill of organizational perfectibility.
Excellence is never a simple affair. Just like a good reputation, which takes years to build, the quest for excellence never reaches a full stop, and never can rest on its laurels.
Operational excellence, the high-end quest
A year and a half ago Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier launched an operational excellence program. After focusing on design accuracy and feasibility, precision, reliability, testing, complications, continuous creativity and, ultimately, especially on the beauty of our creations, now the Fleurier-based Manufacture is embarking, under the impetus of its CEO Jean-Noël Lefevre, on a path of cultural change.
In-house, the program is called CLEAR, focused on the words Customer, Lean, Efficiency, Agility, and Resources. “Working together, we are putting in place inside the company a culture of indicators and measurement. One of my expectations is to be able to ‘drill down’ to objectives and needs on a weekly, or even daily, basis, with the aim of finely smoothing out production and deliveries, and a gain in operational poise.”
Since his arrival at the head of Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, Jean-Noël Lefevre has totally dedicated himself to the true profession of a maker of movements, that of total service for brands…
The customer at the centre
This visual style of management, which naturally involves the installation of open dashboards accessible at a glance, has the advantage of offering optimal and permanent visibility on several operational indicators including the service rate, as well as creating a generalized ownership. “Passing in front of a dashboard means seeing immediately what is working but also what is in the red so that you can trigger immediate action. This encourages teamwork, a change of mindset, transparency and moderation,” explains CEO Jean-Noël Lefevre.
Since the arrival of its new director in April 2019 Vaucher Manufacture – part of the priceless manufacturing tradition of the Val de Travers – has dedicated itself to the true vocation of a movement producer. That of totally fulfilling the needs of brands: “In fine, this translates into increased reliability, quality that is first made routine and then further improved, more efficient logistics all along the line: optimized productivity, reduction of stocks …” adds Jérémy Romier, the project lead for ‘Operational Excellence’, hired in March 2020 specifically to oversee this management transformation. “We really can’t afford runaway production delays anymore,” he says.
Only dedication tracked by measurable results can change “we’ve always done it like this” to “what if we did it like that?”
Could do better?
Steeped in Lean Management techniques, this manager for a new era aims to achieve complete commitment within our work teams. In his words, this is above all a question of “humility, psychology and listening”. He adds that “improving flows, reducing delays, is sometimes counterintuitive. This can only be done with time, patience and training.” Plus, clearly expressed and implemented management direction and motivation.
Because moving from “what if we did it like that” on to a reworked world of “we have always done it like this” requires a measure of persuasive conviction that only conclusive results can embed. This is equally true for watchmakers, as confirmed by Stéphane Oes, director of development (see box 2).
The concept of Agile Business
This dynamic, this overall change of mindset, defined by minute meetings, by internal workspaces reorganised to promote exchanges – such as a creative room or coffee corners – contributes to regenerating the original spirit of a watchmaking know-how already recognized for its industrial excellence. It is organized around two evocatively named programs: Lead (for Logistics, Efficiency, Agility and Sustainability (in French, Durabilité)) and Code 21 (for Creativity, Organization, Development and Efficiency). They result in an optimization of product development flows, and simultaneous validation of processes and product. This makes it possible to work with full, steady focus on several projects at the same time, from the homologation process to delivery.
Stéphane Oes, the challenges of co-creativity
When R&D engages in co-creative mode, it is filled with reverberations that give an extra dimension to any project. This is the way of working Stéphane Oes advocates with all involved participants, including customers. Starting with the in-house laboratory: “Inside Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, the laboratory is the pivotal point of development. It is where the pitfalls that are not visible on a computer screen are detected, where the prototype turns into a justice of the peace . It defines the criteria for a sustainable, reliable product. We must never forget that in the end, there is a customer that wears the watch.”
And creativity, that means organisation. Understanding the DNA of your counterpart, of the client brand, requires an open-mindedness and a working philosophy that lead to co-development. Both internal and external customers can be working to specifications that leave room for scope for new proposals, spontaneous initiatives, or simply fun suggestions, in short, the natural impulses of a committed movement manufacturer. Beyond their guaranteed reliability and high-end reputation, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier calibres will always be more non-magnetic , comply with REACH standards, focused on the eradication of lead in brass…
Innovation is everywhere, not just in how entertaining displays look, or a creation entirely dedicated to one or another specific actor . It is also in the perfectibility of industrial processes, in collaborative teamwork, the arts of co-contracting. Such as for example – as a token of this permanent quest – a guarantee period soon to be extended beyond today’s two-year mark.