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Inspired by Global Collaboration

Mastering Excellence at Philips Lighting  

by Ronald de Raaff, Lean Master enabling functions and Global Philips Excellence Competition Lead


The Philips Lighting Excellence Competition is an annual program. Ultimately, the program is an effective way of making sure that the customers come first. In fact, the improvements it generates are frequently triggered by customer insights – around 80% of the time – so when they're shared throughout the company it means better results, faster, for many more customers worldwide. The competition follows a regular schedule, and the conditions for participation are always the same - only the theme changes each year. This year, the focus is on waste elimination through problem-solving and daily management to generate growth.

Inspired by global collaboration

I became Lean Master enabling functions and Global Philips Excellence Lead in late 2015, where part of my job is to organize the competition for our 34,000 employees worldwide. I became interested in Continuous Improvement and specifically Lean during my previous 16 years at Philips, when I saw what a really great way of improving our business processes and company culture it is. When Philips Lighting became a standalone company, I was attracted to the opportunity of being part of the team driving excellence within our new startup, with all of the excitement and fast decision-making that entails.

The competition begins at the local level with a preliminary selection round at each location. The local winners go forward to compete in the regional finals for Europe, the Americas, ASEAN, India and China, and the eight winning teams are then invited to the World Final, for a week of learning, sharing, giving back to the local community, competing, and celebrating the results, all topped off with a day of fun! The teams present their projects to a jury comprised of selected members of the Lighting leadership team, chaired by our CEO. And because our value streams always start and end with customers, we invite a Lighting customer to participate as a member of the jury. It's not unusual for them to go away completely wowed by the ideas and the energy they observe among the teams! 

Mastering Excellence at Philips Lighting

Standard processes – Exceptional results!

Our mission is to inspire the lighting community to drive for Excellence. By showcasing their ideas and achievements, the winning teams get to share their achievements throughout the entire company, winning the recognition and commendation of the company's senior leaders - and enjoying an exciting and challenging event in the process.

As a global company, teams are often spread across several locations and multiple functions, sometimes in different countries. It's one of the benefits of this global platform that whether colleagues are from the factory floor, product marketing, back office or front-line sales offices, they can pool their experience and learn from each other. Collaboration is what makes these improvement projects so successful. Not to mention that competing with other teams is not only inspiring and helpful, it's fun!

Mastering Excellence at Philips Lighting

Lean at every level

Another part of my job is to drive Lean in the functional domain in Lighting (HR, IT, Finance, Procurement, etc.). In this role I coach Lean Masters and Lean Experts, enabling them to further improve business operations and performance. Together with these Masters and Experts I provide workshops, training and business reviews. There is no formal training to become a Lean Master. Instead, you follow different levels of training followed by an experience-based development process, beginning with a 1-day Lean foundation training that is mandatory for all Lighting employees. The next step is a 5-day Lean Advanced training in many Lean tools, enabling you to understand and anticipate the transformation that Lean processes bring about. Then, if you're interested in taking things further, you can become a Lean Expert yourself, driving larger-scale improvement projects.

Mastering Excellence at Philips Lighting

Driving Excellence

It's satisfying to continually improve everyday processes, and achieve exceptional - even world-class! - levels of excellence throughout the whole company. Our employees are extremely interested in being part of a Philips Lighting Excellence Competition team, even though it sometimes means extra work and the willingness to look beyond everyday demands. Engaging in the competition also offers the potential for more mobility, more opportunities to grow your network and build better teams. Because, we really are Greater Together, one of the key pillars of our culture at Philips Lighting!

Our dedication to improving lives is reflected in our company, our innovations, and a commitment to our people. Philips Lighting employees change lives every day. Click here to learn more about how you can have a more meaningful career at Philips Lighting.

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The winning teams are all invited to an engaging event where they have the unique opportunity to meet the regional or global leadership teams and our CEO as part of the jury teams, and to have their achievements personally recognized and rewarded by them and their peers"


Ronald de Raaff

                        Lean Master enabling functions and
Global Philips Excellence Competition Lead