COE summit highlights companies as ‘engine of social change’

Weeks before the Center for Operational Excellence hosted its first-ever Leading Through Excellence summit, keynote speaker and The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg offered a valuable insight on the recipe for success in the business world during an interview.

duhigg, charles
Summit keynote Charles Duhigg speaking during his address on Friday, April 12.

“You have to be smart and lucky to hit it out of the park,” he said, referring to the meteoric rise of Alcoa under CEO Paul O’Neill.

His words carried a special resonance as COE hosted the summit earlier this month, bringing together more than 200 industry professionals committed to solving the challenges they face and becoming better leaders. The brilliant minds that took the stage gave us our star lineup. It’s that elusive, intangible feeling that everything “clicked” that gave us a home run. Check out the video below for a look – and don’t miss the slide show at the end of this post.

The Leading Through Excellence experience exposed our attendees to the latest research from our Fisher faculty, insights from process improvement veterans, and up-close looks at lasting change through a round of plant tours around the Columbus area. In addition to Mr. Duhigg, we featured a diverse group of plenary speakers that included Momentive CEO Craig Morrison, Ohio State Marching Band Director Jonathan Waters, and Wexner Medical Center patient safety chief Dr. Susan Moffatt-Bruce.

Amid all this variety, a common theme very quickly emerged that – thanks to a lot of smart people and a little luck – neatly threaded itself through all the presentations, from a welcome address from Fisher Dean Christine Poon to Duhigg’s closing keynote, where he said: “Companies are the engine of social change in America.”

Leading Through Excellence brought together professionals in manufacturing, banking, insurance, health care, logistics, and many other industries, but we all found common ground in those words. We didn’t gather for nearly three days just to find ways to cut costs and boost the bottom line. We came together to discover how we can improve the processes that drive our daily work in order to speed up innovation, save lives, or create a better environment for others.

In his dynamic and energetic opening address on our summit’s second day, Morrison told the crowd: “Continuous improvement is a matter of survival in today’s world. It’s not a ‘nice to have.’” This comes from the leader of an enormously successful and profitable Columbus company, but one committed to using his organization’s market position to protect the environment. As Dean Poon said in her introduction to Morrison, companies like Momentive embody that Fisher spirit of excelling in business but also making a difference in others’ lives.

Duhigg echoed that the next day in his keynote address when he said that the habits cultivated in an organization spill over into the lives of those who are a part of it. Leading Through Excellence was designed to help attendees start that next great habit or break the one holding them back. We’re thrilled to make this event an annual habit of our own.

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