Demand Growing for Fisher’s Unique MBOE Program
Elaina Carpino

Elaina Carpino

As U.S. industry begins to emerge from a tough economic recession, companies in both manufacturing and services are “very concerned about their supply chain,” notes Peter Ward, Richard M. Ross Chair in Management.

Manufacturing, housing and goods-producing sectors that took a bigger economic hit remain extremely conservative about growing their workforce and building capacity, says Ward, adding, “There is a lot of interest in encouraging suppliers to practice operational excellence.”

Operational excellence identifies customer needs and designs end-to-end processes that eliminate waste and make the customer experience better. Ward explains that the field has existed for two decades and is well entrenched in manufacturing; however, the explosive growth now is in service operations.

Todd Hoadley

Dr. Todd Hoadley

Fisher, nationally recognized for its Center of Operational Excellence, doubled enrollment in the second year of its Master of Business Operational Excellence (MBOE) program. This intensive, one-year program allows seasoned career professionals to apply what they learn on the job. They visit campus eight times during the year to attend lectures and hear from Shingo award-winning experts in operational excellence. In addition, students work with a coach and a corporate sponsor on a process-improvement or lean project for their organization.

“Our idea is that the project that the student undertakes under our guidance will more than recompense the company for the investment of the student’s time and the program,” says Ward, who has stayed in touch with the program’s first-year students, many of whom have delivered significant return on investment to their organizations. For example, a project undertaken by one student working for a plastic maker saved his company more than a half a million dollars by using existing equipment and avoiding a major capital equipment investment.

This year’s class size has grown from 10 to 23 students, and Ward plans to cap enrollment at 25 for the class beginning in December 2010. The current class of lean aficionados includes Elaina Carpino, an Ohio State chemical engineering alumna, who serves as the global innovation process leader for Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning. Owens Corning is a world leader in building materials systems and composite systems and a market-leading innovator of glass fiber technology.

Carpino is dissecting the information flow that occurs when ideas are born until they are launched out into the marketplace. “I am looking at making the information more visual so we can learn from our opportunities and really serve the market needs,” she says.

She is benefiting from the MBOE’s “rigorous” curriculum and the shared insights of her class peers. “I am looking at things from a lean and continuous improvement perspective to say, ‘How do we drive the execution of new products out to market?’”

Classmate Todd Hoadley, superintendent of Olmsted Falls City Schools, a K-12 school district serving 3,800 students in suburban Cleveland, says the MBOE curriculum is much more than classroom learning: “We also take field trips and have a lot of rich discussions within the class—all that’s been personally very helpful to me,” he says.

While his school district is considered successful, Hoadley hopes to integrate components of operational excellence into an actual classroom to see “if we can move the needle
on student learning.”

Currently, the district’s third grade teachers are expected to teach all subjects—math, science, social studies and language arts. Next year, the district will pilot a teaching model in which one teacher handles a double set of reading and another takes a double set of mathematics.

“One of the things we have to at least explore is, ‘Are we asking teachers to do too much in the area of being experts in all these different curriculum areas?’” Hoadley’s project will explore if the current generalist teaching approach is putting too much stress on the teachers, leading to non-optimal results. Specialization by curriculum area is already occurring from the fourth grade level and up but not in the K–3 setting, he says.

Peter Ward Interview

Peter Ward, Richard M. Ross Chair in Management, talks about the impact of operational excellence and the MBOE program on the service industries.

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Lego Supply Chain Simulation

Lego Supply Chain Simulation

The MBOE program at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business incorporates the use of simulations into curriculum to provide hands-on learning opportunities.

This supply chain simulation allows students to go through a process, apply fundamental lean principles to a situation, and then see the outcome and benefits of operational excellence.

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