The summer event season at The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is kicking off next month with the return of a popular series focusing on the application of op-ex principles in the technology space.
COE’s June 6 I.T. Leadership Network forum will feature Joe Astolfi (pictured, immediate right), Agile Transformation Lead at Columbus-based American Electric Power, and Josh Goodwin (pictured, far right), Operation Performance and Transformation Project Manager at AEP, presenting “When Lean and Agile Converge: The I.T. Transformation at AEP.” At the company, a multi-year lean transformation has made its way into the company’s I.T. function, where teams also practice Agile techniques. And while leveraging both disciplines has helped create a flexible, responsive organization built on continuous improvement, it also has generated no shortage of challenges.
Astolfi and Goodwin will show how they’ve worked to reconcile both practices in the corporate culture with the common goal of creating great, sustainable processes. This morning networking and learning session is recommended for anyone, inside or outside their organization’s IT function, seeking to better understand the intersection of lean and Agile principles and those who encounter or use the practices on a daily basis. It’s also one of the few events each year that we open to non-members at no additional cost. Registration is available here.
A few weeks before the ITLN session, COE’s first Women’s Leadership in Action event of 2018 takes place on May 23, featuring author and former healthcare executive Janet Smith Meeks. This event, open exclusively to COE members, is at capacity and on a waitlist.
Later in June, COE kicks off Fisher’s multi-center summer sessions, which are focusing on how digital technology is changing the customer experience (June 27) and demands on employee skill (Aug. 8). Registration for the June summer session will launch the week of May 21.
Part of this talent war entails leveraging the greater diversity in the world today and removing barriers to advancement that exist, namely for the 75 million women in the U.S. civilian labor force. A recently published report from Columbus-based Leverage HR and Belgium-based social enterprise firm JUMP set out to explore the way these barriers exist and how we can break them down in survey research that will be presented at The Ohio State Center for Operational Excellence’s sixth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit on April 11.
The Leverage HR/JUMP report, published last month, surveyed more than 1,000 professional women in two-dozen industry sectors, nearly half of whom have children under 18 years at home. The women were asked about individual, organizational, and transitional barriers they perceive, which were then converted into a broader risk index score in each category.
According to the survey, participating women perceived the so-called individual barriers as less of an issue. More than three-quarters of respondents said they can accommodate changes to their personal and professional schedules quickly, while more than two-thirds said they don’t let pressure from family and friends dictate their professional choices. What’s more, 78% of respondents said they thrive on change.
It’s in the more externally focused barriers where risk index scores showed greater danger of them leaving an organization as a result. Between 50 and 60 percent of respondents told Leverage HR and JUMP the following:
They find it challenging to appear confident unless they’re 100% prepared;
They believe they aren’t paid the same as male peers for similar performance in the same role (these women would be very, very correct); and
They don’t have a group of trusted advisors.
Broadly assessing the survey data, Leverage HR and JUMP reported that women perceive the biases in how organizations evaluate performance as a major barrier, while they lack the robust network that’s critical for career progression.
Sapna Welsh and Shawn Garrett of Leverage HR will be offering a breakout session on the survey results – and their recommendations in light of them – at 10:30 a.m. during the “A” block of breakout sessions on April 11 in a presentation titled “Building a Culture of Courage to Foster Diversity.” It’s one of a few sessions focused on addressing – and leveraging – diversity in a workplace setting, which Fisher College of Business researcher Steffanie Wilk is covering in a breakout at 12:40 p.m. the same day.
Extremely limited seating remains for the Leading Through Excellence summit. To register, head here.
Frustration is a frequent spark for innovation, and that’s right where some product staging employees at garage door manufacturer Clopay Building Products found themselves.
The process for staging and processing Clopay’s sectional door configuration bundles – unwieldy boxes that group door components for eventual installation – entailed comparing a printed list of the day’s shipping requirements with a string of numbers on the boxes themselves. It was time-consuming task, one process technician Brice Johnson saw a way to improve: Why not provide a visual cue for the carts that needed pulled that day?
The solution wasn’t fancy, but it did the trick: Walk the floor of the massive manufacturing operation today and you’ll see youth soccer training cones perched on stacks of the bundles. Problem solved.
This front-line problem solving is something that might not have happened as frequently as a few years ago at Clopay Building Products, but it’s happening today thanks to a grassroots continuous improvement movement at the Troy-based company shepherded by Joey Fransway, Director of Quality, Environmental Health & Safety, and others. Fransway and his team will be opening their doors for an inside look at their journey on Tuesday, April 10, as part of The Ohio State Center for Operational Excellence’s sixth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit.
‘On a path’
Fransway credits the company’s COE membership as a driving force in its continuous improvement push.
“We’re still on a path, and that path is through connecting with other people through the COE,” he said. “We want to learn from others.”
Clopay Building Products is one of about 20 manufacturing companies that make up COE’s member roster, but it holds the distinction of being the largest manufacturer of residential garage doors, and one of the largest makers of commercial sectional doors, in the U.S. The company employs about 1,600, more than 1,000 of whom are at the Troy operation. The residential and commercial garage door market, according to Griffon, has been estimated to be about a $2 billion business, making Clopay Building Products a major player – thanks in no small part to its exclusive deals with Home Depot and Menards to supply residential garage doors to their stores throughout North America.
Clopay Building Products’ growth has created challenges and opportunities in operations and design. Volume is up, but so is the diversity of products, which range from standard to hand-crafted high-end.
“People used to look at garage doors as a thing that got them in and out of a garage,” Fransway said. “Now it’s an extension of themselves.”
The core tenet of Clopay Building Products’ continuous improvement push has been to empower employees at all levels to solve problems. That’s entailed a rollout of visual management boards throughout the plant, coupled with regular stand-up meetings, along with added touches such as group get-togethers to view TED Talks. The foundation of it all is a “Blue Belt” lean/Six Sigma training program rolled out a year ago that has enrolled more than 60 employees and graduated more than 20, Fransway said.
“We’re focused on getting everybody down that path to continuous improvement, getting information to people on the floor,” he said. “If this is just top-down, it doesn’t do us any good.”
Buy-in is growing at the Troy operation, but this isn’t just happening inside Clopay Building Products’ four walls. The company is heading upstream, too, connecting suppliers to its Blue Belt resources and tying it to its existing supplier certification program.
The locker room
Back inside the Troy operation, a major focus has been on uniting employees to drive collaboration and innovation. Post-it Notes have helped. Fransway and others have transformed an area of the back office previously used for storage into what’s called the “Quality Locker Room,” a hands-on hub for tracking initiatives using visual boards and Post-its.
“When you’re just making lists on the computer, it never goes anywhere,” Fransway said. “When you’re in this room you’re a part of it.”
With its mix of front-line empowerment and visual management, coupled with a relentless focus on quality, the Clopay Building Products continuous improvement initiative is a benchmark in “starting from scratch” and using existing resources – along with relationships like COE – to drive cultural change.
When the company opens its doors in April for the tour, attendees will have the opportunity to see the Quality Locker Room and take a guided tour of the plant, which will stop at about 15 different stations on the floor to highlight how continuous improvement initiatives are being embedded throughout.
It’s a great deal of progress – but like any journey to excellence, it’s far from done.
“Where we want to be is nothing like where we are today,” Fransway said.
Seats remain available for the Clopay Building Products tour. They can be claimed by registering for the summit by the Monday, April 2, deadline.
Charles Duhigg took the stage at The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence’s first Leading Through Excellence summit nearly five years ago.
A lot’s changed since then.
A mere three days after his featured keynote for the event, he was part of a team of New York Times staffers who won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for its iEconomy series, what the Pulitzer committee called a “penetrating look into business practices by Apple and other technology companies.” And the book The Power of Habit? Released in February 2012, it became a bona fide hit, spending more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. He followed up Habit with Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, another Times bestseller he’ll be speaking about as a featured keynote on Wednesday, April 11, at COE’s sixth-annual summit.
In the run-up to his return to the Buckeye State, Duhigg spoke to COE Associate Director Matt Burns about the inspiration for his latest work – and what we can take away from it. Here’s a (lightly edited) recap of their chat …
Matt Burns:What led you from The Power of Habit to Smarter Faster Better?
Charles Duhigg: After The Power of Habit, a question kept coming up. People kept on saying, “We know how to change habits – what are the right habits?” At the same time, I started noticing things happening in my own life: The book did really well, and I was grateful for that. I was getting opportunities to do lots of things but I just felt like I was working all the time. I started asking myself: “What am I doing wrong?” If this is what success feels like, sign me back up for failure.
Then, I started to contact researchers and ask them how people can get so much done and not let it ruin their lives. And what they said is that rather than working hard, the people who are the most productive and successful have figured out how to work smarter. They understand the difference between being busy and being productive – and the difference is that instead of working all the time, you’re working on things that actually matter. They can recognize the right priorities and goals in such a way that priorities are honored and responded to. They can innovate on demand rather than waiting for a muse to strike them. They can take some of the amazing amounts of data that we have and grasp knowledge from them.
MB: You start the book off by writing about motivation. Looking at how you’ve observed people functioning in organizations, where are they going wrong in this regard?
CD: People focus too often on the wrong kind of measurement. We tend to focus on what we measure, so if your measure is getting your inbox to zero, it’s not going to be surprising that you spend all your time e-mailing. The first thing that happens when it comes to motivation and goal setting is you have to take a step back and ask: “What do I really want to achieve here? What’s important to me?” If your answer is just that you want to make it through the day, you’re gonna make it through the day. But if you have the time and space to say, “What is my deeper aspiration? What is my bigger goal?,” then you’re going to be able to align your choices to what actually matters to you.
MB: You spend a lot of the time in the book on team building. What surprised you about your research in this area?
CD: The biggest surprise for me was that who is on a team matters much less than how that team interacts. The conventional wisdom is that we should spend a lot of time thinking about “casting,” getting the right types of people on the team: introverts, extroverts, people who believe in the same type of leadership style. But all the research shows us that how a team interacts with each other matters much more than who is on it. You could have all “A” players on a team – but if you don’t have the right culture, they’re not going to gel together. You could have all “B” players on a team and if the culture is right, they could exceed what the “A” players do.
The other thing that’s really interesting is you can come up with a formula to help people come up with the right team culture by driving a sense of psychological safety: conversational turn-taking, ostentatious listening – those are just a few things that contribute to it.
MB: One of the big themes at our summit this year is disruption, namely how things like automation and data are driving changes in our work – and that’s something you address, too. How are these forces changing how we should be making decisions?
CD: Decisions can be much more informed now. Before, information was a scarce resource and the people who made great decisions were the people who had access to more information. That’s no longer true. But as a result, people have stopped applying critical thinking in some respect and allowed information to guide their choices. We now know there’s a big difference between being exposed to information and turning that into knowledge.
The key there is the concept of disfluency (Editor’s note: Duhigg’s book defines this as making information “harder to process at first, but stickier once it was really understood” ). This can seem slower and less productive in the short run – instead of looking at an Excel spreadsheet you have to sit down and mess around with it – but we know that, over time, this makes people more productive. Instead of absorbing information, they’re transmitting it into actual knowledge.
CD: A great example of this involves my kids. When I wrote The Power of Habit I spent a lot of time with my kids looking at cues and rewards and shaping behavior, but with Smarter Faster Better the conversations I have with my kids are more about asking them: What can you do every day to put yourself in charge of your own life? When we go to school some mornings, I ask them to “tell me the story of today:” What do you think the best part of today and the worst part of today will be? The reason this is a good conversation is that it teaches them to build mental models about their day.
If we build mental models about how we want our day to unfold, we know that helps our brain remain focused – it also teaches us to have an internal locus of control. We are in charge of what happens every day in our lives. If you’re in charge, you have the power to guide yourself.
Most of life is reactive – the point is to become more proactive, and if you can learn that as a habit, it can be really powerful.
Duhigg will be signing copies of his books following his 3:40 p.m. keynote on April 11. The Leading Through Excellence summit is nearly sold out, with only a few seats available.
The final keynote announced for next month’s Leading Through Excellence summit is the latest high-profile hire in the world of Buckeyes sports who’s off to an auspicious start.
The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is thrilled to announce Buckeye Men’s Basketball Head Coach Chris Holtmann will serve as the morning keynote on the final day of the April 10-12 summit. He joins fellow keynote speakers Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Power of Habit; Karen Martin, author of Clarity First; and Bradley Staats, a researcher and author of the forthcoming Never Stop Learning.
The announcement comes just weeks after Holtmann clinched Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in his first season with the Buckeyes, who are 24-8 overall and 15-3 in the Big Ten. Holtmann, who’s won Coach of the Year three times now in three different leagues, coached the Buckeyes to a 9-0 run out of the gate in Big Ten play. That’s the first time that’s happened for seven or more games in nearly a century, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Check out his full bio on COE’s summit website.
In his keynote, Coach Holtmann will be sharing career and leadership insights – and some thoughts on the season – as well as taking questions from the audience.
“We’re thrilled to have Coach Holtmann take the stage at our sixth-annual summit,” said COE Executive Director Peg Pennington. “This event is all about developing team-building and leadership skills, and Coach Holtmann has shown he has a lot to offer in both.”
The four featured Leading Through Excellence keynotes are among more than 40 sessions offered at the summit, which is more than 80% booked a little more than a month out. The dynamic mix of workshops, tours, breakout sessions, networking events and keynotes is COE’s signature annual event, which is open to the general public as well as employees of member companies.
If you found yourself finally getting around to Googling “what is blockchain” right before the holidays last year, you weren’t alone.
Google Trends shows the search term hit peak popularity the week before Christmas after rising dramatically throughout 2017, offering two insights: (1) People are really interested in learning about the emergent technology and (2) Most people still have no clue what it is.
If you’re in either or both camps, COE’s March 23 event is designed specifically for you. We’re partnering with Fisher College of Business’ Operations and Logistics Management Association of MBA students to present Supply Chain 2030, a primer on four much-buzzed-about, but often little-understood, technologies that are poised to drive major transformation in the global supply chain in the coming years – and in some cases, already are.
Our key areas of focus span the four key supply chain processes (plan, source, make, deliver) and cover artificial intelligence, blockchain, additive manufacturing, and drones. Speakers include Waseem Shaik, Practice Lead IoT Analytics, Teradata’s Think Big Analytics; Adam Winter, CFO of Clarus Solutions; Dr. Ed Herderick, director of additive for the Ohio State Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence; and Uday Bauskar, drones program head for Tata Consultancy Services NA.
Throughout the morning event, you’ll have the chance to network with other COE members and Fisher MBA students, learn the basics on these topics, and engage in Q&A with all the speakers. When you walk out, you’ll have the grasp of the basics for each – and a better picture of where they’re taking the world of supply chain management.
The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business’ Master of Business Operational Excellence program is sponsoring a one-week “Genba in Japan” from May 12-19. The trip will offer an up-close look at how Japanese companies have succeeded in delivering superb quality at the right price, with short lead times, while ensuring high levels of employee and customer satisfaction. Sites include key suppliers of automaker Toyota – a lean manufacturing forerunner – and a range of other industries applying these principles.
“There’s no experience quite like going to the source,” said Rick Guba, an MBOE faculty member and retired lean leader from GE Aviation who’s leading the trip. “The organizations we’ll be visiting have been practicing the kaizen philosophy for decades, and seeing this up close is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The “Genba in Japan” trip has limited space available and costs $7,500 per person, which covers travel within the country, most meals, and single-occupancy four-star hotels. Participants must arrange their own transportation to and from the country and have a valid passport or visa.
The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence’s smallest member company is making a play for a bigger footprint and a better customer experience.
WillowWood, the prosthetic product manufacturer and COE member based south of Columbus, opened a new office in Salt Lake City, Utah, in recent months as part of a move to cut down on shipping times for its West Coast customers and gain more business in the market. The company is leasing office space and manufacturing space, running a four-employee operation that’s – for now – exclusively dedicated to its custom fabrication business.
WillowWood makes a number of products for amputees, but its custom fabrication operation is a critical part of it. This entails making “sockets” that slide over a protective sock-like liner the company also makes. To avoid discomfort or, worse, injury, the socket must be custom-made to fit perfectly on an amputee’s residual limb – sometimes above the knee, sometimes below – before connecting to a prosthetic foot or pylon.
At the beginning of this process, a prosthetist sends WillowWood a plaster cast of the residual limb to ensure the socket is precisely custom made, but shipping that from the West Coast to the company’s Mt. Sterling headquarters could take nearly a week in some instances before fabrication could even begin.
WillowWood COO John Matera said that for the company, which employs 211, the new office was “a small step, but a big enough step for us.”
“Our big push was to get service turnaround time a lot shorter than it was for the West Coast,” Matera said.
Sights also are set on growing sales in the market without plaster casts and finished custom fabrication needing to criss-cross the country. It’s a notable step forward for a company with a 100-plus-year history that’s now led by Ryan Arbogast (pictured in featured image above), whose great-grandfather founded WillowWood in 1907.
“WillowWood has been working to provide innovative products and services to clinicians and amputees for over a century,” Arbogast said. “When we see an opportunity to expand our services in a way that gives our customers more and better options, we do our best to take advantage.”
If America’s top health insurers weren’t thinking about the threat of disruption much before, they were after the stock market opened on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Online retail juggernaut Amazon joined with Warren Buffett-owned conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway (owner of COE member NetJets) and banking giant JPMorgan Chase to announce they’re forming an independent health care company to serve their employees in the U.S., according to a report in the New York Times. The companies employ a combined million-plus globally, many of which are stateside.
Even though details on the plan were scant – the trio said the partnership will be focused on creating technological solutions that drive simplicity and lower costs – stock prices for companies like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana and Cigna took a hit. The Times aptly noted that the “lines that have separated traditionally distinct (healthcare) sectors … are increasingly blurred,” and companies with the scale – and cash – of the Amazon/Berkshire/Chase triumvirate are poised to blur them further.
This latest threat of disruption to the healthcare industry comes after years of similar shake-ups in the technology, entertainment, and retail sectors, among others. Those three, according to a 2015 Cisco report, Digital Vortex, are the most vulnerable through 2020 to the entry of disruptors who can fundamentally change business as usual. Near the bottom of that list in 2015, at least slightly safer: Healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
In just a few years, the game has changed.
Count longtime COE member Cardinal Health Inc. among those standing confident as the broader healthcare supply chain faces disruption. Newly named CEO Mike Kaufmann speaking at a conference just weeks ago said the company has the scale, supply chain sophistication and pricing that would make it a formidable incumbent to beat, even for the Amazons of the world.
Amid unprecedented change in the insurance space, companies such as COE member Nationwide are trying to keep a step ahead – and even get in at the investor level on growing disruptive forces. The company this past summer hired a chief innovation officer and announced plans to invest $100 million in startups, saying the move “lays the foundation for the company to lead on businesses and technologies that anticipate future and emerging changes.”
Companies going forward may be defined by their ability to anticipate and react to disruption. At the Center for Operational Excellence, we believe the foundation of that is a culture that values continuous learning, thinking about the best practices that become “next practices.”
At COE’s upcoming Leading Through Excellence summit, April 10-12, we’re driving a conversation about disruption that companies need to start having if they haven’t already done so. That same Cisco report found that 45% of respondents to a large-scale executive survey said digital disruption isn’t a board-level concern. Only 25% said then that they were actively responding by disrupting their own business.
At the summit, we’re thrilled to host one of the authors of the Digital Vortex report and book: Jeff Loucks, now the executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications. Loucks in a featured breakout session on April 11 will be sharing insights from Digital Vortex, helping attendees better understand how and why disruption occurs – an what they can do about it.
Loucks’ presentation is just one of a number of opportunities to better understand disruption and see how some companies are managing to disrupt themselves …
On Tuesday, April 10, award-winning innovation researcher Aravind Chandrasekaran leads an interactive workshop designed to help companies manage disruptive innovation through changing market and customer conditions.
That afternoon, COE is taking a group of attendees off-site to The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research. Part of that tour will include an up-close look at how autonomous vehicle technology is poised to change the entire automotive industry.
Building off the bird’s-eye view of disruption Loucks offers in his breakout, David Kalman from change consulting company Root Inc. in another session will guide attendees through a discussion about how they can create innovative disruption within their own organizations.
A team from Columbus-based insurer and COE member Nationwide will be hosting a presentation and panel discussion on how technology is transforming processes at the organization.
Kalyan Sakthivelayutham, VP of Information Technology for DHL Supply Chain, will be offering a look inside how the company is ahead of the curve in introducing technology such as Google Glass and robotics inside its own operations.
You might not know the name Lancaster Colony, but you almost certainly have one of its products in your refrigerator or freezer right now.
Lancaster Colony is the company that owns and makes the market-dominating Marzetti salad dressing and dip brand along with other products such as Sister Schubert’s homemade rolls and New York Brand Bakery Texas toast. It’s a $1.2 billion-a-year company based in Columbus, part of the Center for Operational Excellence since 1998 – and starting a brand new chapter in its corporate story.
David Ciesinski, who joined the company as COO in 2016 and took over as CEO last year, will be highlighting that new chapter in a keynote address he’s delivering to close out COE’s first members-only session of the year: A Feb. 9 networking and learning event at the Blackwell on the campus of Fisher College of Business.
New to Lancaster Colony, Ciesinski is a seasoned veteran of the packaged food industry who’s served in leadership roles at well-known brands such as H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
In his new role with Lancaster Colony, he’s said he’s making continuous improvement a central focus of the company’s forward momentum, leveraging a multimillion-dollar project portfolio and growing team of Black Belts to cut expenses in products’ journey to the shelf and eliminate waste along the way. More importantly, Ciesinski said he’s working to create a culture in which employees are driven by purpose and data-centric decision making.
That sense of purpose and data-rooted decision making will both prove critical in the years ahead for Lancaster Colony, which is dealing with unprecedented change in consumer preferences that are shaking up the restaurant industry (the company supplies a number of top chains in addition to brand-licensing deals on their own products) and grocery aisles (the company’s biggest customer is Wal-Mart). Lancaster Colony itself, though, is no stranger to change. The company was formed in 1961 when several glass and housewares makers merged and went public in 1969, when it bought T. Marzetti Co.
In the subsequent decades, the company grew as a conglomerate, selling a wide range of products. As recently as 2003, its glassware, candle and automotive businesses made up more than 40% of its sales. Since then, the company has made a concerted move to sharpen its focus on its food brands, becoming exclusively so by 2014.
In his presentation, Ciesinski will offer a candid look at his lessons learned in this new era for a company with a more than half-century legacy.
This session is available for in-person attendance and via livestream for members. Registration is available here.