July summer session takes deep dive into critical work-force challenges

The U.S. work force is at a turning point, with change swirling everywhere: Millennials are now the largest generation in the workplace. Baby boomers – and their decades of institutional knowledge – are nearing retirement after putting it off during last decade’s recession. Constant technological leaps are rewriting the rules for the skill sets that matter.

What does this mean for organizations trying to attract and hire today’s talent? How does this change the game for their ongoing efforts to build culture and develop their existing employees?

The Center for Operational Excellence is teaming up with three other centers for a pair of summer sessions focused on today’s greatest business challenges. The first, “Human Capital and Talent Management,” tackles these vital work-force development issues and on the morning of Tuesday, July 18, at the Fawcett Center.

At this session, gain insights on this issue from three compelling angles:

  • M. Gootman, Brookings Institution

    The Big Picture: Brookings Institution Fellow Marek Gootman will be unveiling results of a new work-force survey conducted in conjunction with the National Center for the Middle Market. The survey, set to be released in late June, looks at how middle-market companies – the fastest-growing segment of the economy – are responding to large-scale shifts in work-force dynamics to hire and retain workers.

  • The Ground War: Join talent management VPs Maura Stevenson (Wendy’s) and Kelly Wilson (Cardinal Health), and Kathy Smith, AVP Executive Succession and Development at Nationwide Insurance, for a moderated panel and audience Q&A session on how their organizations are responding to these work-force trends.
  • The Pipeline: Jamie Mathews-Mead, senior director of graduate career management at Fisher closes out the session with a look at how the college is preparing students to best meet companies’ rapidly evolving needs.

After the presentations, enjoy a networking lunch with members of other Fisher and Ohio State centers. Registration is set to open in June, with limited seating available for members and partners of each center.

The second summer session, set for Wednesday, Aug. 16, focuses on the explosion of data and digital disruption companies face and features a keynote from Jeremy Aston, senior director at communication tech giant Cisco. More details will be announced next month.

Check out all of COE’s upcoming events on our website …

Retail CEO headlining June women’s event

When apparel retailer J.Jill went public on the New York Stock Exchange in March, it was worth noting for a few reasons.

Paula Bennett

First, the Quincy, Mass.-based company’s IPO was the first such debut of 2017. Second, the company is led by CEO Paula Bennett. Female CEOs are rare atop the corporate ladder – and as for IPOs? They’re virtually nonexistent. Less than 3% of all IPOs in the past decade have been led by a female CEO.

Bennett is joining the Center for Operational Excellence at its next Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday, June 23, where employees of member companies are invited to network over breakfast and then hear her insights on how she’s enabled her team to deliver consistent profitable growth within a shifting retail landscape. Bennett also will share how the J. Jill team has turned obstacles into opportunities to create a strong and growing business with a loyal and growing customer base.

If you’re not familiar with J.Jill, the company has 275 stores in 43 states targeting affluent customers in the 40-65 age segment. The company has an omni-channel platform that spans its retail stores, website and catalogs.

J.Jill reported sales for its most recent fiscal year of $639 million, making it part of the fast-growing middle-market retail segment. The company was founded in 1959 – its name is a nod to the co-founders’ daughters – with its only sales channel through catalogs. The company jumped into e-commerce and opened its first retail stores in 1999. In recent years, J.Jill has seen robust top- and bottom-line growth as it has expanded, culminating in its spring IPO.

If you’re an employee of a COE member and are interested in attending the event, click here to read more or register now.

Urban Meyer at summit: ‘Empower your people, give them ownership’

The speaker kicking off the final day of the Center for Operational Excellence’s Leading Through Excellence summit needed no introduction.

Just days out from the spring game, Buckeyes Head Football Coach Urban Meyer joined the sold-out crowd of more than 400 attendees at the summit to share his insights on leadership and team-building at Ohio State, his 2012 return he called coming back to “a school I love, a state I love, really a dream.”

Here are highlights of his keynote:

On his mentors, Earle Bruce and Lou Holtz: “I’m humbled to say those two are my mentors, and I wouldn’t be here today without them. That’s how much I love those guys and appreciate what they taught me.”

On his philosophy of any team, inside or outside sports: “Every group has a breakdown of 10-80-10. That first 10 percent are the elite, the core of any organization. The 80 percent are average, and then you have the bottom 10 percent: the defiant, the disinterested. We want to harness the power of the elite, grow the 80, and eliminate the bottom 10.”

On transforming the average into the elite: “You have to empower your people, give them ownership somehow.”

On motivation: “If your people deep down think you can make them great, you can coach harder and demand more. That person has to believe they can be great and you have to sell that.”

On the importance of alignment: “When you’re dealing with masses of people, you have to be very clear on the purpose of your organization and the alignment has to be very good. You have to make sure your mission statement, alignment and culture are so clear that if people don’t operate in that culture, it’s insubordination. In so many organizations, it’s a gray area.”

On benchmarking: “Always learn. There’s always someone out there doing a great job with something.”

Looking for more on the 2017 summit? Check out a recap of keynote Don Sull and a look back at the entire event in pictures.

CoverMyMeds to share ‘stealth lean’ journey at June COE event

Columbus-based healthcare software maker CoverMyMeds made headlines earlier this year when McKesson Corp. announced a $1.1 billion deal to acquire the company, but it’s been a dynamic player in central Ohio’s tech startup scene for nearly a decade.

Fast-growing and routinely honored as one of the region’s best places to work, CoverMyMeds also has been working to ingrain a culture of continuous improvement into everything from its day-to-day software development to its big-picture strategy. But how does a structured approach to lean and agile thrive in a casual, jeans-day-every-day culture?

The Center for Operational Excellence is thrilled to host for its next IT Leadership Network forum on Tuesday, June 6, two leaders at CoverMyMeds at the forefront of its efforts to drive lean practices: Director of Quality and Risk Management Rick Neighbarger (pictured, right) and Agile Coach Nate Lusher. Neighbarger and Lusher in this wide-ranging discussion will offer insights on:

  • Operational excellence in a startup culture: Driving change in a consensus-building, not top-down, environment;
  • “Stealth lean:” Teaching the tools and behaviors without getting lost in the lingo;
  • Garnering buy-in: Selling change up and down the ladder; and
  • Moving forward in the face of change: Continuing a lean journey after the McKesson deal.

This session not only offers an inside look at the nationally recognized culture at CoverMyMeds but offers insights on leading and sustaining change that leaders can apply no matter the industry or company.

Click here to register for the morning event.

‘Power of Habit’ author Duhigg set for 2018 summit keynote

When New York Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg took the stage at the Center for Operational Excellence’s first-ever Leading Through Excellence summit to share insights from his book The Power of Habit, he probably didn’t realize he was on the cusp of a breakthrough.

A mere three days after his summit keynote, he was part of a team at the Times awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper’s series on Apple’s business practices and the changing global economy. At the same time, The Power of Habit was ramping up for a blockbuster run as a pop-science phenomenon that kept it on the bestseller list for more than a year.

In 2018, Duhigg’s journey brings him back to Ohio State.

Duhigg will serve as the featured keynote at COE’s sixth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit, set for April 10-12 at the Fawcett Center. Opening the second day of the summit on Wednesday, April 11, Duhigg will be presenting insights from Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, his Power of Habit follow-up.

In Smarter Faster Better, Duhigg explores why some people and companies – from CEOs and four-star generals to FBI agents and Broadway songwriters – get so much done. Duhigg in the book posits that it’s not how the most productive among us act – it’s how they view the world and their choices. In the introduction, he calls Smarter Faster Better “a book about how to recognize the choices that fuel true productivity.”

Duhigg will be one of four featured keynotes at the summit. Additional speakers are set to be announced at COE’s Sept. 15 seminar. Registration for the 2018 summit is scheduled to open Dec. 8.

Click here for a look back at COE summit 2017.

Summit keynote: Simple rules pack surprising punch

It’s a reflex for leaders in many businesses, and it drives Don Sull absolutely crazy. When a complex problem arises, leaders spring for a solution just as maddeningly complex, full of contingencies and if-thens.

The problem, he offered in his keynote at the Center for Operational Excellence’s Leading Through Excellence summit: “Just because a solution is complex does not mean it’s better (than a simple one).”

Sull, a researcher and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World, kicked off the second day of COE’s fifth-annual summit with a crowd of more than 400. Detailing the surprising findings of Simple Rules, he offered a path forward on a critical challenge to business leaders in a wide variety of industries: How can critical processes be structured but still have “breathing room” for creativity and innovation?

The answer, culled from years of research, mostly at tech companies in Silicon Valley, is the concept of “simple rules,” a small, concise and appropriately specific set of guiding principles that can transform a hazy path forward into a sure thing. These rules, Sull said, can be helpful in situations ranging from resource allocation and knowing when to call it quits on a project to turning analysis into action (think Moneyball) and reigning in innovation.

Sull is careful to point out the many processes, by contrast, where less structure and simple rules aren’t the way to go: Surgery, high-volume manufacturing, and airplane-flying, to name just a few.

“There are a ton of processes activities where a high-structure approach is the right thing to do,” he said.

The problem, Sull said, is that so many companies apply the same structure and rigor to processes and decisions that would only benefit from a pivot to simplicity. And it’s up to us as leaders, he said, to make it happen.

“People default to complex solutions for a variety of reasons that I find intriguing and maddening,” Sull said. “As leaders, you have a choice.”

For a full look back at the summit, head to our photo retrospective.

COE Summit 2017: In Pictures

The Center for Operational Excellence launched its first-ever Leading Through Excellence summit in 2013 with a crowd of 200 process excellence leaders – and a vision for bringing together teams from a variety of companies to dive into the latest insights on leadership development and problem solving.

Just this month, COE concluded its fifth-annual summit, smashing records with a sold-out event that brought more than 400 change agents from more than 50 companies to Columbus. Here’s a look back at the event in pictures from photographer Jodi Miller:

Nearly three-dozen breakout sessions, workshops and keynotes take place at the Fawcett Center over Leading Through Excellence‘s three-day span, but hundreds of attendees also head off-site as well. COE member Engineered Profiles, led by President Mike Davis, hosted one of several tours during the summit, offering attendees an inside look at how the manufacturer sustains leader standard work in the plant and office sides of the business.

COE featured a leadership icon in sports – Buckeyes Football Coach Urban Meyer – as one of its keynote speakers. Meyer encouraged the crowd to “empower your people, give them ownership,” outlining how his trademark 10-80-10 philosophy allows him to leverage the talents of his elite players to build excellence throughout the team.

How can the A3 problem-solving structure be leveraged to involve all members of your team and generate discussion? Cal Poly Prof. Eric Olsen took 50 Leading Through Excellence attendees through an interactive workshop exploring lean facilitation methods that can be adopted at any organization.

Keynote speaker Donald Sull, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, brought key insights from his book Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World. Sull and co-author Kathleen Eisenhardt set out to see how the best companies balance the need for standardization and efficiency with creativity and innovation. Sull offered that “simple solutions aren’t always better than complex ones, but just because it’s complex doesn’t mean it’s better.”

Fisher College of Business students are a vital element of Leading Through Excellence, where they volunteer on tours and introduce speakers and showcase some of their own work. Here, students share takeaways from Six Sigma projects they completed at non-profit and for-profit organizations in the Columbus area.

Dozens of teams from companies across the country – including this group from COE member and summit sponsor Huntington Bank, pictured here with Executive Director Peg Pennington (far left) – use the summit to hit “pause” on their schedules at the office and search for new insights they can use upon their return.

Summit breakout sessions are a mix of insights from Ohio State researchers and presentations from leaders at a wide variety of companies. Here, American Woodmark Corp. CEO Cary Dunston opens up on his journey as a leader and the crucial role of emotional intelligence.

 How can the art of storytelling be used in business to make a case for change? Aditi Patil (pictured, top right image) and Tony West of ThedaCare in their full-day workshop guided attendees on how to blend “hand,” “head” and “heart” to tell impactful stories as leaders.

Fisher Prof. and Associate Dean Elliot Bendoly, one of several faculty researchers featured at the summit, shared results from recent research he’s conducted on how cutting cycle time in different stages of research and development can help – or harm – market performance.

Businesses can’t ignore the digital revolution and have to decide “if you’re going to be the taxi cab or Uber,” keynote and Mindset Digital CEO Debra Jasper says in her presentation. 

Summit closing keynote Chris Yeh, (Buckeye fan and) co-author of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, argued that companies today need to view their employees less as a family and more as a team, empowered to reach outside to their extended networks to help solve tough challenges. “People are your differentiator,” Yeh said.

For a look at all summit photos, head to our Flickr page.

Want to join us in 2018? We’re back April 10-12 with featured keynote and The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg.

Fisher Prof. Chandrasekaran earns ’40 Under 40’ honor

A publication covering the country’s graduate business school education scene has named one of Fisher College of Business’ Management Sciences professors among its ‘Best 40 Under 40.’

aravind chandrasekaranAravind Chandrasekaran, associate professor of operations at Fisher and an associate director for the Center for Operational Excellence, was unveiled as part of Poets & Quants’ 2017 class this weekend. The slate of “academia’s most impactful young professors” emerged from a pool of 421 nominations for 118 professors, a record for the six-year-old annual listing. Poets & Quants said it factors in nominations along with research quality, visibility in scholarly publications and popular media, and professors’ ability to motivate, inspire and translate difficult concepts.

Prof. Chandrasekaran has earned plaudits for his teaching and research. A nominating administrator at Fisher noted he could possibly the youngest person in the world to publish a paper in each of the four operations management journals considered the best in the field. Prof. Chandrasekaran at Fisher won teaching awards for his work in the MBA program in 2016 and 2012 along with the Pace Setter Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013.

Check out Prof. Chandrasekaran’s full profile on the Poets & Quants website or take a look at his research and teaching on Fisher’s website.

COE Summit sold out! Waitlist available

This year marks the third consecutive year the Center for Operational Excellence’s Leading Through Excellence summit has sold out – but it’s never quite happened this soon.

The April 11-13 event reached full capacity in early March at more than 400 attendees, fueled by unprecedented early demand from member companies. In recent years, the summit has reached full capacity within a week of event kickoff.

Miss the cut? Here are the basics:

Get on the waitlist: Cancellations happen, and there’s a chance we will be able to offer some seats to waitlisted attendees beginning next week through the end of March. Your best shot at getting into the summit begins with getting on the waitlist.

Your company’s headcount matters: Member companies make up more than 80% of COE summit registrants, and while the event is open to the public, we want to make sure our partners get a fair shot at attendance – particularly those with none or very few registrants. The higher on the waitlist you are, the better shot you have at being granted a seat, but in the interest of fairness to our member companies, you’ll get priority if your company currently has between zero and five registrants currently signed up.

Missing the event doesn’t mean you miss everything: As in past years, any presentation materials from breakout sessions and keynotes that speakers agree to make available will be posted on our password-protected, members-only Digital Content Archive within eight weeks of the event (summit attendees will have access to electronic session materials immediately following the event). Also be sure to check our activity on Twitter: We’re @FisherCOE and will be posting summit tweets using the hashtag #COESummit17.

We’re be reviewing our process for next year: In just four years, attendance for Leading Through Excellence has more than doubled. Recognizing the strong increases in demand we see each year, we’ll be reviewing the admission process for the 2018 event and announcing any changes in the fall.

Summit Keynote Q&A: Communication in a distracted digital world

Communicating effectively – for a large-scale process improvement initiative, about new standard work, even just scheduling a meeting – is always a challenge, but it’s never been more of one. We’re deluged every day with information from a wide range of sources competing for our attention that can make our lives as leaders harder even as they bring unprecedented ease to our lives as consumers.

debra jasper mindset digital
Mindset Digital CEO Debra Jasper is the afternoon summit keynote on Wednesday, April 12.

The Center for Operational Excellence is focusing on this challenge at its upcoming Leading Through Excellence summit by dedicating an entire keynote session to the challenge of communication in today’s fast-paced, distraction-rich world. Taking the stage at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, is Debra Jasper, founder and CEO of Columbus-based Mindset Digital. Jasper is an award-winning investigative journalist who’s now a leading authority in honing how we communicate in a digital world, making the complex simple.

Jasper, who’s focusing her summit keynote on communication essentials inside organizations, spoke to COE about what’s in store at her presentation.

COE: We live in a world of high-volume, high-speed demands on our attention. How has that changed the game for communicating as a business leader?

Debra Jasper: In a world of information overload, we have become a nation of skimmers and scanners. We have 147 emails coming at us each and every day, and that doesn’t count all of the text messages, posts, tweets and invites.  So at Mindset Digital, we teach business leaders how to adopt an “SOS” approach — everything must be short, organized and skimmable.

COE: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when communicating internally to colleagues?

DJ: So often we’re so busy, we think “I’ll just rush through my emails and get them off my plate.” In reality, we have to write with clarity and impact, or even our own colleagues will tune us out. Ask yourself: Are your emails too confusing, too detailed or just too tough to puzzle through? If your colleagues are taking a long time to get back to you, it may be more on you than on them.

COE: One of your big passions is getting people to change how they communicate via PowerPoint presentation decks. What common misconceptions are out there regarding best practices in this format?

DJ: One big issue with PowerPoint is that it was invented in the ’80s, but many of us are still using it as if it still is the ’80s. Today’s audiences are much more visually sophisticated, which means that to tell a great story today, you must tell a great visual story. I sat next to an executive on a plane the other day, and he had been going to Toastmasters to improve. I told him: “If you want to be a great storyteller, spend more time crafting a great story.”

COE: You’ve written before about “the curse of expertise.” What’s the downside of being extremely knowledgeable in your field? 

DJ: “The curse of expertise” is when you are speaking to impress, rather than inform. Sometimes we think that speaking in our lofty language makes us seem smart and credible. Instead, all of that jargon can simply drive away your audience.

COE: You speak to audiences in a wide variety of industries. What can our group of process excellence-minded “change agents” expect to walk away with when they hear from you at our summit next month?

DJ: In today’s world, it’s easy to get a message out. It’s tough to get a message in. We will show people how to write and present with clarity and impact.

 


 

Leading Through Excellence is sold out but a waitlist is available. For more information on Jasper and other keynotes and speakers, visit our official website.