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4 Digital Improvement Leadership Lessons from Daniel Schönheim, Lufthansa Aviation Training Group

Daniel Schönheim, Senior Director Collaboration and Process Evolution at Lufthansa Aviation Training Group, outlined how his company is using process mining to navigate volatility including pandemics, economic shocks, weather and supply chain disruptions.

When you listen to Schönheim's take on continual process improvement it's evident that there are takeaways to consider well beyond the airline industry. After all, we're all facing volatile business conditions and need to adapt as quickly as airlines do daily.

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Simply put, we're all airlines now. With that backdrop in mind, it's worth examining a few core process leadership lessons from Schönheim.

1. Learn from other industries. Schönheim in a series of interviews with Celonis Media, argued that companies across multiple industries need to talk about data management, continual improvement, process mining and predictive analytics. Some of this cross-industry collaboration revolves around sharing best practices, but a lot of it is working together to enable better data-driven decision making. To get there, requires a bit of evangelism.

Schönheim said:

"After talking with a lot of companies about process mining, we need to transfer the idea that it's not only about dashboarding and descriptive information, but better decisions and execution. We need to talk about a new style of making decisions of working together and of helping each other with fact-based information."

2. Make Process Mining a daily routine. Process mining needs to become an organic part of daily operations at enterprises. Process mining usage needs to become as routine as opening an email, said Schönheim, who added that process mining should just be "a part of your daily routines."

He said:

"It's part of how you work. It is just normal to have predictive information. It's just normal to have small automation bots helping you. And then you can put your energy as a human being on the big system and the big picture instead of being stuck too much in details."

3. Learn from volatility. Airlines often have to retool and reinvent processes, said Schönheim. Today, airlines are restarting operations after the COVID-19 pandemic amid inflation, weather disruptions and spikes in demand. "What I observe is that other industries have been quite stable in the past, but are also becoming more volatile," said Schönheim. Companies new to volatile conditions must learn from other industries and become more digital and agile to follow the data, he added.

4. Continuous improvement leads to trust. Continual improvement and process excellence leads to culture changes that require trust. Schönheim said a platform approach is required to gain trust of everyone in a company.

Schönheim said:

"Continuous improvement from a leadership perspective is to provide platforms where trust and the right amount of being brave helps people decide and define processes that are the best for the company. This will lead to the best result for the customers. So, it is about providing a platform. It is about providing the right tools and it's about changing habits."

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Larry Dignan
Editor in Chief (former)

Larry Dignan is the former Editor in Chief of Celonis Media. Before joining Celonis, he was Editor in Chief of ZDNet and has covered the technology industry and transformation trends for more than two decades, publishing articles in WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, The New York Times, and Financial Planning magazine.

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