COE Summit 2019: A Look Back, in Pictures

Each year, The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence brings together hundreds of process improvement leaders from across the country for a deep dive into leadership and problem-solving best practices. This April saw the seventh run of the Leading Through Excellence summit, which launched in 2013 and remains the center’s marquee annual event.

As preparations begin a busy summer and fall event slate – not to mention the 2020 summit – let’s take a look back at moments from this year’s summit …

Wall Street Journal columnist Sam Walker kicked off the second day of the summit on April 10 with a featured keynote on some surprising insights from his bestselling book The Captain Class. The key to great teams, Walker contended, isn’t a star player or even a great coach; instead, it’s the captain, or “middle manager,” who has made all the difference in some of the legendary runs in sports. “Leadership is about the choices we make every day in the team setting,” Walker told the crowd.

The summit began the day before with rounds of tours and workshops, like a “lean 101” session hosted by Fisher College of Business faculty members Rick Guba and Jill Treece that used Mr. Potato Head as a key prop in its crash course on problem-solving basics.

Nearly 200 summit attendees headed out across Central Ohio the afternoon of April 9 for tours to sites including John Glenn Columbus International Airport, North High Brewing, and Hikma Pharmaceuticals.

Columbus-based healthcare software startup CoverMyMeds hosted a tour for the second consecutive year as it gears up to build a massive new headquarters west of the city’s downtown.

Tour attendees also stopped by the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, an arm of Ohio State’s College of Engineering that’s working with companies on their leaps forward in advanced manufacturing.

Rounds of breakout sessions on a wide range of topics form the heart of the summit. Here, Ohio State psychology professor Ellen Peters shares insights from her research on how our confidence in math ability affects our ability to deal with numbers.

Stories from center member companies can be found across summit programming, brought to attendees by leaders like Bruce Evans, the ebullient chief customer officer of American Electric Power. AEP has been a part of the center since 2013.

Operational excellence is just as much about people as it is process. Here, L Brands VP and Chief Diversity Officer Nichole Marshall offers an inside look at how the retailer has embedded inclusivity in its processes and culture. “Diversity is counting heads; inclusion is making heads count,” Marshall said.

Summit attendees work hard – and play hard. New York City based musical comedy troupe closed out the second day of the event with their signature mix of song parodies and audience interaction…

…while Columbus magician Drew Murray dropped by the evening reception.

Few companies based in Columbus are more representative of the digital disruption trend than retailer Designer Brands, which just rebranded from DSW Inc. to reflect recent and future innovations. “If we go down, it’s going to be because we are innovating and trying new things, not because we didn’t try,” Rawlins told the crowd.

Fisher College of Business students are vital to the summit, where more than three-dozen of them serve as volunteers …

…while others join to present results from process improvement projects they’ve conducted with Columbus-area nonprofits and corporations.

The disruption theme continued on the third and final day of the summit with a presentation from Sean Lane, chief executive of healthcare artificial intelligence startup Olive. “I think the rise of the digital workforce will be the biggest change we see in our lifetime,” Lane said in his featured breakout session.

To deal with all the change in our lives and work, we need to practice the art of gratitude, which “helps the good stuff stick when our brains are wired to remember the bad,” breakout session host and psychologist Dr. Melissa Briggs-Phillips told the crowd in her presentation.

To get attendees ready to apply the many insights they gathered across the three days of the summit, executive coach and The Hope-Driven Leader author Libby Gill closed out the event by asking attendees: “Do you have a job, a career, or a calling?”

Check out more photos from summit 2019 on our Flickr page.

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