Changing cultures

Amongst ANDRITZ ’s customers are some of the best in their field, often- times operating legacy businesses with decades of experience and tens of thousands of employees. Yet, even these companies are adapting to new realities in an ever more connected world. Mike Carroll works in one of these companies. He is the Vice President of Innovation at Georgia-Pacific Corporation, one of the world’s leaders in producing paper and tissue for mostly giant industrial customers.

ANDRITZ helps the company to run their facilities more smoothly and efficiently with highly advanced, self-developed IIoT tools, leading to less downtime, higher profitability, and thus providing a competitive edge. Both companies have developed a very unique understanding of what working together in dynamic times really should look like – even if it means having challenging conversations. Chris Sousa from ANDRITZ met Mike Carroll in Atlanta to talk about the essence and the results of their work together.

Chris Sousa and Mike Carroll

Chris Sousa (left) works as a process optimizer at ANDRITZ. Together with Mike Carroll, he develops new ideas for the pulp and paper producer.

© Jan Philip Welchering

Chris Sousa — Mike, how do you yourself describe your job?

Mike Carroll — I try to be an infectious catalyst for positive change. To do this properly, I spend a lot of my time outside the company and the industry, seeking the best knowledge. Armed with this knowledge, I engage people in conversation about what making the best use of that knowledge might look like within our context. The thing is, when you start using these new ideas and technological tools, the real improvement opportunities emerge when you change how you talk and, therefore, how you think. In the beginning, all that can be quite uncomfortable because you come to realize that you’re not as good as you thought you were.

How does ANDRITZ help you with this realization though?

M. C. — We are both working on that. The short answer is that they help us obtain a true picture of our plant performance. The biggest obstacle we’ve faced has been letting go of what we view as being true about our plant and processes. It is these beliefs that can allow us to become overly comfortable, thereby enabling us to justify carrying yesterday’s methodologies into the future and to shape how we use technology based on the past. ANDRITZ helps us change what we think about ourselves and, therefore, we liberate ourselves so that we can change what we do. The tools and technologies we have deployed together have the potential to help us change how we think. Of course, in changing these things we all hope for the hockey-stick development of benefits at all times, but then usually settle for reality because we continue in the same way as we always have. But the real improvement at the end of the hockey stick comes when you change how you frame problems, and then you can solve them differently for a new tomorrow.

Does the company only have to further open up internally or also towards suppliers or service providers?

M. C. — We are becoming more comfortable with the amount of transparency that technology and digitalization enable. That transparency pulls operations largely out of the shadows. The things that we want to be true or we think may be true aren’t always necessarily so. Transparency changes everyone’s behavior for as long as it prevails.

Mike Carroll is Senior Vice President for innovation at Georgia-Pacific. He would like to have more from ANDRITZ than just the usual services - challenging discussions.

© Jan Philip Welchering

How did the collaboration with ANDRITZ work in order to create a more productive facility?

M. C. — For us, a more productive facility means optimization of processes by using the technology we have for what it’s good at and freeing up our talent to create more value collaboratively. This will be especially important in the future when dealing with the loss of knowledge and experience during all the generational retirements of the next decade. Unless we start building for that now, our successors will be left with little choice but to radically overturn our traditional model of replacing talent one-for-one. It’s likely that everyone’s new mental model will need to consider how to use technology to connect more quickly and efficiently with the subject matter experts that are left, like those from ANDRITZ. And for those technologies specific to our business rather than the industry, embracing tools and technology differently may help create a way to extend the availability of that knowledge long enough to make a difference. Otherwise the next generation of leaders may ask “why spend the opportunity cost trying to develop expertise that already exists and is easily available via a more highly interconnected ecosystem of capability?”


"What we make probably won’t change greatly, but how we go about making it certainly will change quite a lot."

Mike Carroll

How will your business of producing paper and tissue change as a whole?

M. C. — What we make probably won’t change greatly, but how we go about making it certainly will change quite a lot. For certain, the whole industry will be a lot closer to its customers/consumers.

Given that this uncertainty in your industry might remain no matter what you do: Why does Georgia-Pacific then need a company like ANDRITZ?

M. C. — It comes down to one word and that is agility – agility that enables speed. This comes from a fundamental belief that the only sustainable advantage you’re going to have is no longer limited to IP. Tomorrow, the only sustainable long-term advantage anybody can ever hope to have is the ability to recognize opportunities and scale them quickly. And all this needs the right talent and culture.

What happens next in the changes you have started to implement together?

M. C. — The next steps are now to take these things as far as our courage and ability allow, increasing our knowledge, improving our practices and in the end, sustaining the performance we achieve. We need to continue to ask what capabilities, functions or roles we need. What tools do we need and where? Today, companies have a great deal of embedded self-insurance within their operations because yesterday we solved problems by throwing people at them. People were the capability we could deploy, and this worked for what we needed then. Success tomorrow will require us to be different in that regard. What ANDRITZ has helped me learn is that capability is much more than technology alone.

How can a company get rid of too much of this insurance attitude?

M. C. — The interesting thing to me is that most of those insurance decisions are typically delegated – because of their complexity – to people that aren’t facing the customer. But risk is there in the marketplace, where your customer is. Again: Not being intellectually honest is the biggest threat we face – not having the courage to allow curiosity to help us ask questions. We all need to develop a form of behavior that allows partners like ANDRITZ to be more frank and honest.

Georgia-Pacific at a glance

Georgia-Pacific is one of the world's leading manufacturers of tissue, cardboard, paper, packaging, and cellulose-based building material. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Georgia-Pacific employs around 35,000 people in 200 locations all over the world. Founded in 1927 by Owen Cheatham as a wholesaler for lumber, Georgia-Pacific is now a subsidiary of Koch Industries and has been since 2005.