Project “P”—A Blank Slate at Audi
December 2, 2019, is a momentous day for the production and logistics division at Audi. It marks the start of a new era for the production The heart of every car maker is its production department, and Audi has just given it a new organizational form. This might sound like a minor administrative reform. But that would be like equating the shift from combustion engines to electric drives with a simple model facelift. This first Monday in December 2019 marked “the largest transformation project in Audi’s history,” says Peter Kössler, the company’s board member in charge of production. “We pulverized our complete organization,” he adds. One could also say the company conducted one of the largest internal reorganizational projects ever seen in German automotive industry.
New matrix for new challenges
“Expertise-oriented matrix organization” is the key to the future of “P,” Audi’s production division. This new organizational form is designed to enable the car maker to meet upcoming challenges considerably more efficiently and cost-effectively, because the automotive industry needs to master the greatest transformation in its history. The industry’s very foundations have been shaken by innovative technological trends and a fundamental shift in how society views mobility. Digitalization, driverless cars, alternative powertrains, intelligent assistance systems, big data—car designers today need more know-how than NASA engineers did to build their first lunar rocket. The wheel of innovation is spinning ever faster, and anyone who cannot keep up will quickly fall off. This calls for innovative business models and products. And that in turn requires production facilities to accommodate ever shorter intervals in technological developments as well as changing expectations on the part of customers. Within the space of just one year, Audi therefore took its production department from the initial idea to the actual launch of what it calls an expertise-oriented matrix organization.
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