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PEOPLE – THE KEY TO SUCCESS

A Steinbeis expert paves the way for systematic ongoing development of a medium-sized business

TRUST TRADITION. EXPERIENCE INNOVATION. This is the anniversary slogan adopted by PAJUNK® and nothing could reflect the company philosophy more accurately for the producer of medical technology from Baden-Wuerttemberg. For more than 50 years, the company has stood for innovative medical solutions “made in Germany.” A family-owned business now in its second generation, PAJUNK® is a leading international manufacturer of medical technology used in the fields of regional anesthesia, neurology, pain therapy, minimally invasive surgery, and biopsy. It continually reinvents itself as a business by actively involving all members of staff. For this to work, the firm brought the Steinbeis expert Ute Villing on board from the Steinbeis Transfer Institute for Leadership Psychology, HR, and Organizational Development.

The core values of tradition, innovation, and progress have shaped the international, family-owned business ever since it was set up. PAJUNK® works with business partners, medical professionals, and leading physicians to develop innovative solutions and products. The big breakthrough for the company came with the launch of the world’s first atraumatic spinal cannula as part of a joint development project with Prof. Dr. Günter Sprotte. The technology made the firm a global market leader.

ACTIVE AND AT HOME IN MANY MARKETS

For the company from the small Baden-Wuerttemberg city of Geisingen, this was no reason to rest on its laurels. The firm has continuing expansion plans, because it believes that building a successful brand with a focus on the future requires thinking and action on a global scale. Accordingly, CEOs Simone Pajunk-Schelling and Martin Hauger are pushing ahead with an internationalization process in sales, not only in established markets in Europe, but also worldwide. The “Made in Germany” stamp of approval will remain in place, as will operations in Geisingen, which not only has a manufacturing site but is also home to company headquarters and development. To manage expansions in production, PAJUNK® is looking closely into machine networks, process automation, and integrating robots – valuable help when it comes to producing serial products and dealing with heavy parts. “The requirements of future production are already a challenge today. It has to be adaptable, efficient, and sustainable,” explains Pajunk-Schelling.

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SHAPING TRANSFORMATION TOGETHER

Continual change and moving forward are important for any firm that wants to stay in tune with future needs, and similarly, they’re also important to actively shape change and, in particular, do so with the involvement of employees. The company Continual change and moving forward are important for any firm that wants to stay in tune with future needs, and similarly, they’re also important to actively shape change and, in particular, do so with the involvement of employees. The company is now one of the biggest employers in the area and in addition to a workforce of more than 500 people in Geisingen, it also has subsidiaries in Atlanta and Newcastle. As the company expands and hires more and more people, it is also undergoing structural changes and changes in the nature of the workforce. This transformation requires new setups and different ways of thinking, as well as the integration of new employees and managers. “There’s a strong team behind every strong product, and this team needs the right skills, an ability to innovate, and the commitment of every individual involved in the process so that everyone can make a personal contribution to the product. This is something we’re fully aware of in senior management, which is why we involve our colleagues in the change process,” explains Hauger. A central task in doing this is to address a “fear of change” among workers as part of a change management process that will allow staff to play an active role in transformation. To do this, people need to capture the vision together, gain transparency, and communicate openly. Sustainable changes in the corporate culture are only possible by actively involving the workforce.

EXTERNAL SUPPORT WITH SUCCESSFUL TRANSFORMATION

To manage this task, PAJUNK® turned to the support of Ute Villing, director of the Steinbeis Transfer Institute for Leadership Psychology, HR and Organizational Development. Villing is in a position to come to a task with an open mind, without prejudice. She can listen to the concerns and needs of staff and bosses objectively and with empathy. The Steinbeis expert goes through an intensive series of consultation and supervision sessions, drawing on her knowledge of leadership psychology and change management to suggest a number of different ways to systematically move the business forward – all within a timeframe and at a cost that are entirely reasonable for a company undergoing rapid expansion.

As a family-owned medical technology specialist, one essential aspect that has to be dealt with is how it can (or should) manage the fine balancing act fueled by the family atmosphere at the company and its standing as an international business. “The aim of collaboration has to be to manage the multiple tasks together and pinpoint solutions to the central question: What is the best way to allow staff and managers to develop in a way that makes sense, given the growth being witnessed by the company? How can new specialists and managers be made to feel more at home in the world of PAJUNK®? What can be done to support managers with the multiple tasks they are responsible for? Other key factors include how everybody works together, future communication hierarchies, and the desired communication culture. We also want to establish a structured foundation of knowledge at the company with respect to management and psychology so that problems can be tackled and solved in organizational terms, on an interpersonal level, and also for psychological reasons,” says Ute Villing, outlining the challenges that lie ahead, which should be solved and implemented step by step alongside the team as part of an iterative process.