Grassroots COE benchmarking group growing as members share insights

hban jeff sturm
Huntington’s Jeff Sturm kicks off the January benchmarking session at the bank’s downtown Columbus headquarters.

Two-dozen leaders from 11 Center for Operational Excellence member companies are gathered at Huntington National Bank, overlooking downtown Columbus and looking to learn from each other.

One company distributes pharmaceuticals. Another is keeping the lights on in the room itself. Yet another makes forklifts. And another sells insurance.

Spread across a variety of industries, they’re allowing the rest of the group a look under the hood of the operational excellence transformations they’re all sustaining in the hope that their challenges and successes help others – and that they walk away with new insights, too.

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Attendees of the January benchmarking session, which represent roughly a dozen COE member companies.

“We need help seeing things,” Huntington Chief Continuous Improvement Officer Jeff Sturm tells the group as the morning begins. “We base this on the idea that we’re better together and we need each other.”

This late January meeting marks the third occasion a group of leaders from COE member companies has gathered at a host company for an informal benchmarking session. At the meetings, attendees take advantage of the casual atmosphere to open up about some of the most crucial challenges in process improvement – sustainability, leadership behavior, metrics – and field questions from others. It’s a quick procession of slide decks and Q&As that offers a snapshot of how these companies are injecting structure and momentum into transformations that, in so many companies, fail from a lack of either.

Deb Lindway
Deb Lindway

The benchmarking group launched in August of last year at COE member KeyBank in Cleveland. Deb Lindway, Key’s enterprise director of Lean Six Sigma, reached out to COE about bringing leaders to its headquarters to connect.

“We’ve realized tremendous value from participating in COE events, but we wanted to pull together a subset of COE members from service-based companies to share our stories and leverage our collective experiences,” Lindway said.

Fewer than a dozen attendees from several member companies got the group started in August. A follow-up session in November at member Grange Insurance attracted a larger group, and now the gathering has doubled from its original size.

tim krall leanohio
Tim Krall

One regular attendee is Tim Krall, deputy director of LeanOhio, the group formed after Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011 and made process improvement at state agencies a key priority. LeanOhio joined COE last year and Krall is presenting a breakout session at April’s Leading Through Excellence summit.

Krall himself is a continuous improvement veteran who’s spent time at COE member Owens Corning along with Emerson Network Power and Sandvik, where he was serving as a continuous improvement leader when he joined LeanOhio more than a year ago.

“Getting a chance to meet with my peers from other industries really ignites my excitement for continuous improvement,” he said. “It’s great that others share openly both the good and bad, giving others a chance to learn from their experience.”

COE Executive Director Peg Pennington, who’s served as emcee of the benchmarking sessions, said she sees the gatherings as a start of something new – and potentially transformative – at the center.

“The most visible aspect of COE is its event roster, but COE is more than that – it’s a community of people committed to solving problems and learning from each other,” Pennington said. “I really see groups like this as the future of our center. It’s exciting to see these connections get made and keep growing.”

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the benchmarking sessions, contact Pennington at pennington.84@osu.edu.

COE Summit 2017: 10 weeks out, 10 things to know

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In just 10 weeks, 400 process excellence leaders from around the country are gathering at the Fawcett Center in Columbus, Ohio, for the Center for Operational Excellence’s fifth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit, a wide-ranging deep dive into problem-solving and leadership insights featuring two-dozen speakers.

Here are 10 things you should know as the April 11-13 event approaches:

We’re 70% booked. Registrations are coming in at a record pace that could lead to a full sell-out before April 1. If you’re considering returning to the summit or joining us for the first time, now’s your opportunity to guarantee your spot and have the best access to available Tuesday workshops and tours.

Early bird pricing ends Feb. 13. Right now, all member and non-member registrations to the summit are automatically discounted by 5%, while groups of five or more that register trigger an additional 5% discount. On Feb. 14, one of those price breaks will vanish, leaving only the group discount on the table. Gather your team now and sign up before then to ensure the best pricing.

fedex_servicesMost breakout sessions are up for view. Leading Through Excellence offers five breakout session windows across April 12-13, with four options during each session. Of the 20 total options, 15 full abstracts are now posted on our website, with the remaining five set to debut by Friday, Feb. 10. Take a look now at what’s being offered and some of the organizations featured, including Cleveland Clinic, Bose, LeanOhio, IBM, LeanCor and FedEx.

debra jasper
Debra Jasper

Another keynote will be announced next Friday. Right now, we’re thrilled to feature Mindset Digital CEO and organizational communication expert Debra Jasper and The Alliance co-author Chris Yeh as keynotes for Leading Through Excellence. If you’re joining us for the Feb. 10 seminar via live-streaming or in person, you’ll be the first to hear our latest keynote announcement, which we’ll be posting on our website and via social media later that day.

Workshops and tours are filling up… Even with a record 15 workshop and tour offerings on Tuesday, April 11, some sessions are beginning to fill up. The all-day “Business Storytelling for Leaders” workshop hosted by ThedaCare has reached capacity along with the morning “Aligning Improvement with What’s Important” strategy workshop hosted by lean expert Beau Keyte. In the afternoon, tours to Anheuser-Busch InBev and Fuse by Cardinal Health – 2016 offerings back by popular demand – have booked up, as has a tour of BMW Financial Services.

cleveland clinic logobut many are still available. The upside? Another 10 tour and workshop offerings – including a newly added afternoon session of Keyte’s “Aligning Improvements” session – are still up for grabs. That includes an all-day lean office-focused tour of the Cleveland Clinic’s massive Revenue Cycle Management area, a morning crash course in data analysis, a zombie-themed afternoon Six Sigma workshop, a trip to Honeywell Aerospace, and more.

We’re going digital. Leading Through Excellence is debuting an official app for this year’s summit that includes all information on sessions and keynotes, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and more. Attendees also will have the opportunity to connect with others via messaging, rate sessions, and submit Q&A electronically. The summit app will roll out a month before the summit, giving you a chance to explore what it  has to offer and make the most of it across the event’s three days.

Hotel deadlines are approaching. Coming in from out of town? Bringing a group? There’s still time to take advantage of specially reserved hotel blocks at two venues near the Fawcett Center: The Hilton Garden Inn and Staybridge Suites OSU. Hilton Garden Inn’s block pricing is available through March 10, while a newly added block at Staybridge must be booked by March 25. Rooms in the summit block have sold out each year in advance of the deadline, so head to our lodging/travel page to make your reservations.

Our summit schedule has changed – for your convenience. To better accommodate travel schedules on the summit’s final day, Thursday, April 13, Leading Through Excellence will kick off at 8 a.m. and conclude with a 12:30 p.m. lunch following closing keynote Chris Yeh.

Thursday’s early start is worth it. A very special guest will take the stage at 8 a.m. on the summit’s final day – and you won’t want to miss it. Intrigued? We’ll be making the announcement in the March summit preview edition of our Current State e-newsletter and on this blog.

Ready to register? Click here or check out event details on our official site.

‘On Demand’ event Feb. 24 looks at supply chain impact of shifting consumer trends

prime now
Courtesy Amazon.com

With fourth-quarter and year-end financials for online retail juggernaut Amazon.com set to be released Feb. 2, industry watchers were abuzz with a statistic from digital commerce watcher Slice Intelligence: More than half of all 2016 growth in e-commerce came from Amazon alone.

This dominance is the latest sign that Amazon is growing as an industry disruptor, shaking brick and mortar retail to its core and reframing what it means to be competitive – and to win. Amazon’s most headline-grabbing move of late – Prime Now one-hour delivery – demonstrates that what’s propelling the company along is a relentless push to satisfy customer demand with lightning speed and unprecedented convenience.

Indeed, a shift toward instant-gratification customer demand is transforming the supply chain as we know it – and for a variety of industries. In the space of several years, Uber has turned the personal transportation trade on its ear and become a model of disruption, leading the Wall Street Journal in 2015 to state “There’s an Uber for Everything Now.” In the traditional world of goods production and fulfillment, consumer product giants such as Procter & Gamble Co. are undertaking vast strategic overhauls of their distribution models.

These changes roiling in the operations, logistics and supply chain management worlds pose huge challenges to companies just as they present opportunities. The Center for Operational Excellence has teamed up with the Fisher College of Business Operations and Logistics Management Association for a look at this trend through a half-day Supply Chain Symposium event called “On Demand,” set for Friday, Feb. 24, from noon to 3:30 p.m. At this event, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from leaders at companies including Nestle USA, DHL and Amazon about how they’re working to keep pace with demand and stay competitive.

adrian kumarThe first speaker at the event is Adrian Kumar (pictured, right), VP of Solutions Design, North America for DHL. Kumar leads a team of 50 engineers and supply chain professionals to drive growth and continuous improvement across the US and Canada. He’ll be discussing how changing consumer trends are changing the traditional fulfillment model along with the economics behind the model, crowd-sourced delivery. Kumar also will highlight the shift to regional and local fulfillment centers and the challenges in addressing short supply chain lead times.

michael coburnThe keynote speaker at the event is Michael Coburn (pictured, right), head of customer-facing supply chain for Nestle USA. Coburn, a nearly 30-year Nestle veteran, will introduce the concept of short-shelf-life products and their impact on products and customers. By presenting Nestle case studies, he’ll also illustrate their challenges and complexities along with the evolution of the short-lead-time supply chain space.

The event, open to COE members and Fisher graduate students, will wrap up with a discussion panel where Kumar of DHL will join Rob Precord, project manager, supplier-facing supply chain at Nestle and Matthew Fein, an operations manager at Amazon in Columbus.

Registration is open now for this event, which will take place on Fisher’s campus.

COE’s Feb. 10 strategic leadership keynote filling up fast

The Center for Operational Excellence’s first event of 2017 is shaping up to be one of its biggest.

trish gorman
Trish Gorman

The Friday, Feb. 10 keynote featuring strategy expert Trish Gorman is nearly 80 percent full with weeks to go. The 1 – 2:30 p.m. session, open to employees of COE member companies and invited guests, is preceded by a noon networking lunch and is followed by a book-signing with Gorman and an optional debrief session.

Gorman’s keynote, “From Strategic Thinking to Strategic Leadership,” explores how strategic thinking is essential to competitive success – but it’s not enough. Strategic leadership, Gorman assets, is needed to energize yourself and others to convert ideas and analysis into coordinated and timely action.  Especially in dynamic, uncertain environments, it’s leadership powered by analysis that ensures firms can respond with agility and resilience to challenges in real time.

Gorman is a renowned speaker and consultant currently working as an innovation expert for the Ohio State Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fisher College of Business. She is the founder of an online assessment firm, KEASkills, and serves as an advisor and subject matter expert for early stage investors and leaders of growth-focused organizations. Gorman also co-wrote What I Didn’t Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World, which she’ll be selling and signing following her talk. Five registrants at the event also will win a copy of the book in a drawing that will take place the day before.

Click here to register for this event, which is expected to reach full capacity by the end of January.

Wexner honored, Zakaria talks innovation at Fisher Centennial

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CNN host and writer Fareed Zakaria, third from left, and L Brands CEO Les Wexner, third from right, at Fisher’s Centennial Celebration.

The Max M. Fisher College of Business, home to the Center for Operational Excellence since its founding, formally celebrated its centennial year in December, ringing in the occasion with a top honor for a global leadership icon and an impassioned defense of higher-education institutions as fuel for tomorrow’s innovation.

Students, alumni, faculty, staff, friends and business partners gathered this month for a Centennial Celebration that honored one of its most successful alumni – L Brands founder and CEO Leslie H. Wexner – and featured CNN’s Dr. Fareed Zakaria as keynote speaker.

Zakaria, who hosts the show Fareed Zakaria GPS and contributes to publications including The Atlantic and The Washington Post, looked back in his keynote on a year in which divergent perspectives on many of America’s institutions had no shortage of ardent defenders and impassioned detractors. One of those institutions: The higher-education system in the U.S. that, 100 years ago, helped create schools such as Fisher.

“We’ve become very worried that we are not poised to be able to reap the benefits of this new world we are all moving into,” Zakaria said. “There’s a great fear that we have an expensive, outmoded education system that really doesn’t work for today’s world.”

Zakaria has become an outspoken advocate for the notion that this fear, often rooted in statistics that show American students’ middling scores on international tests, is in many ways unfounded. Other countries, he noted, view America’s education system with overwhelming admiration and envy that has fueled ongoing attempts at imitation for many years.

“(Other countries) like our complex layering of science, technology, humanities and social sciences,” Zakaria said. “This has been America’s innovation.”

If results on a test don’t define innovation, then, what does? Innovation flourishes in large part, Zakaria said, by how much a society allows its people to dream big, question the status quo, and keep trying in the face of failure. It’s no coincidence, he added, that top innovators such as the U.S., Israel and Sweden have these characteristics and more, allowing their people not just to master tools and technology but understand the insight into human beings that truly drives innovation.

“Innovation really is about exercising all our talents and senses,” Zakaria told the audience. “There’s an understanding of human beings, of countries, of wants and desires and tastes. The United States does this through the kind of education OSU provides better than almost anyone else in the world.”

Wexner, a famed innovator in the retail world, was presented with Fisher’s Centennial Award of Distinction, an honor he said he shared with college namesake Max M. Fisher, a mentor who drove him to new heights as a leader and philanthropist.

“This is really a joint award, and maybe I’m the junior partner,” Wexner told the crowd. “It’s really from the Fisher College of Business to Max.”

Read more about Fisher’s Centennial Celebration here or watch highlights from the event in the video below.

First breakout sessions revealed as summit discount deadline approaches

Planning to attend the Center for Operational Excellence’s Leading Through Excellence summit in April? Less than two weeks remain to get the best available pricing on the three-day event.

summit-banner-resized-smallAny registrations before Jan. 1, 2017, automatically will receive 10% off the total price. Group registrations of five or more receive an additional 5% off, a discount in effect the duration of the summit sign-up period. The automatic early bird discount for individuals and groups of up to four drops to 5% at the beginning of the new year.

Leading Through Excellence, COE’s signature event, will take place April 11-13 and feature a wide variety of workshops, tours, breakout sessions and keynotes designed to help attendees sharpen their problem-solving and leadership skills. This year, we’re taking attendees to the Cleveland Clinic, exploring the power of business storytelling, and hosting sessions from leaders at companies including IBM, Bose, FedEx and more. Keynote speakers include communication expert Debra Jasper, CEO of Columbus-based Mindset Digital, and Chris Yeh, co-author of the bestseller The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.

Details on all 20 breakout sessions will be posted by the end of January, but the first several are already up for review. They include:

cary dunston
C. Dunston

Emotional Intelligence: Becoming a Leader Who Cares, hosted by American Woodmark CEO Cary Dunston. In this session, Dunston will explores why leaders with the best intentions often make choices that limit their ability to be effective. The root cause, he proposes, is a lack of “emotional intelligence,” which can steer leaders to become emboldened by purpose and aligned with their core values.

The Power of Lean Habits, hosted by Eric Olsen, a professor at California Polytechnic State University. Drawing from Charles Duhigg’s bestseller The Power of Habit, Olsen in this session explores how companies can leverage the key components of the habit loop – cue, routine, reward, craving – to identify the lean and non-lean habits at work in their organizations.

Building the Fit Organization, hosted by Dan Markovitz, Shingo Prize-winning author. Markovitz wrote his book of the same name after realizing too many companies in their pursuit of operational excellence were trying to mimic “the Toyota way” without translating the core concepts of lean into a language that resonates with their employees and in their unique corporate culture. This session offers the keys of the Toyota Production System in jargon-free terms.

The clock’s ticking. Read up on other breakout sessions or head to the summit website to explore the rest of the event and register! Fees start at $695 for employees of COE member companies, $975 for non-members.

Is faster always better in R&D? Study says it’s complicated

Getting to the market before a competitor can mean the difference between smashing success and crushing defeat. This has prompted many companies to look critically at their product development processes in hopes of finding new ways to slash time.

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Elliot Bendoly

So is faster better? New research this year from Fisher College of Business Associate Dean Elliot Bendoly shows it’s not that simple.

Bendoly’s research, co-authored by Rao Chao of the University of Virginia and published this year in Production and Operations Management, took the novel step of scrutinizing the product development process at eight distinct stages – spanning the “fuzzy front end” to market entry – to find out what happens when each one is sped up.

They found evidence that shortening two of the eight stages – beta/market testing and technical implementation – was linked to market value gains, though only to a certain point. How aggressively companies innovated and how much time they cut were key factors of influence. The research, which you can read about in full on the Management Sciences department website, might break new ground in how we view the product development process.

Fisher’s Management Sciences department, where COE’s associate directors reside, is a powerhouse in generating the latest research insights the managers’ most critical challenges. Check out these other research highlights, published in recent months:

Bad behavior damages trust in buyer-supplier relationships – Prof. James Hill

Understanding the three stages of business relationships – Dept. Chair Kenneth Boyer

Finding an easier way to roll out electronic medical records in healthcare – Prof. Aravind Chandrasekaran

Managing quality in outsourced production – Prof. John Gray

Member Huntington Bank commits to major bump in hiring, lending

Center for Operational Excellence member Huntington Bank on Nov. 22 announced plans to add 1,000 jobs in its home city of Columbus in the next several years and boost its commitment to lending in low-income area neighborhoods.

Huntington BankHuntington said it plans to achieve its jobs push by 2024, adding 1,000 workers to its Columbus-area payroll of about 5,600, according to data from Columbus Business First. Huntington today ranks as the 15th-largest employer in the Columbus area, just ahead of COE member Cardinal Health Inc. The bank also said it will commit to lending $300 million to low- and moderate-income areas of the city over the next five years, with a focus in the Linden and Northland neighborhoods.

“Columbus is our home, for the past 150 years, and we’re stepping up to help transform an important area because we believe in helping small businesses grow and families prosper,” Huntington CEO Stephen Steinour said in a statement. “The city has been an outstanding partner and we’re proud to support the Mayor’s vision to revitalize key growth neighborhoods.”

For more details on Huntington’s announcement, including its plans to consolidate jobs in a brand-new office, check out reports in Columbus Business First and the Columbus Dispatch.

Keynote, tour details emerge as registration for COE summit approaches

Ready to make your Leading Through Excellence game plan?

Registration for the Center for Operational Excellence’s fifth-annual summit is set to open Friday, Dec. 2, when COE will be hosting its final event of 2016. Leading Through Excellence will take place April 11-13, 2017, at the Fawcett Center in Columbus, Ohio, and is expected to attract nearly 400 process excellence leaders from around the country. Once again, the summit will bring a blend of dynamic keynotes and breakout sessions from researchers and business leaders, hands-on workshops, and off-site tours, all focused on developing key problem-solving and leadership skills.

More information on the summit, including a new keynote addition, will be announced at the Dec. 2 seminar, but here are some speakers, events and other key details you should know:

Chris Yeh
Chris Yeh

Co-author of bestseller ‘The Alliance’ set for closing keynote: COE is thrilled to announce Chris Yeh, bestseller of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, will be serving as the closing keynote of the summit on Thursday, April 13. Yeh’s book, which he wrote with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, debuted in 2014.

A collaborator with high-tech startups since 1995, Yeh’s mission statement as described in The Startup of You is “To help interesting people do interesting things.” He has been blogging since 2001, both on his personal blogs and as a guest author in outlets like TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat. He’s also the author of the popular blogs Adventures in Capitalism and Ask The Harvard MBA.

More keynote information will be announced Dec. 2 and posted on our summit website.

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Image source: CNBC

Tour highlights Cleveland Clinic’s lean office excellence: Cleveland Clinic isn’t just one of the best hospitals in the country. It’s also a model of how a culture of excellence and continuous improvement can grow and sustain across a massive organization that sees more than 5 million patient visits a year and employs more than 3,000 caregivers. Leading Through Excellence attendees will have the chance on Tuesday, April 11, to head to Cleveland and get a look at how the organization has rolled out operational excellence in its back-office functions. This all-day opportunity is a must-see for process excellence practitioners in service and transactional environments. It’s one of more than a dozen tours and workshops being hosted on the first day of the summit, most of which are posted on the summit website.

Bose, FedEx, IBM leaders among breakout session hosts: Head to our summit website now for an early look at confirmed hosts of the breakout sessions that fill out April 12-13 at the summit. The sessions once again feature the summit’s signature mix of insights from Fisher College of Business researchers and transformation stories from business leaders. This year, participating organizations include Bose Corp., Fedex Corp., IBM, ThedaCare, and more.

Best group discounts end Dec. 31: The first four weeks of summit registration offer member and non-member attendees the chance to save up to 15% on summit registration by registering five or more employees at one time. A smaller early bird discount runs Jan. 1 – Feb. 13, though groups of five or more save an additional 5% during the entire registration period. Check out our pricing info for more details.

Don’t miss your best chance to save the most on what will mark the biggest event in COE’s 25-year history!

Event preview: Keys to collaboration in any industry

As a researcher, Prof. Aravind Chandrasekaran doesn’t hang his hat in one particular industry.

In the 12 years he’s been contributing to our knowledge on issues such as innovation, knowledge creation and health-care delivery, he’s walked the floor in manufacturing plants, chased high-tech electronics as they move through the R&D pipeline, and scrutinized discharge instructions for kidney transplant recipients.

At the heart of his research is the question of handoffs: How can we move information more efficiently? How can we bring products to market more rapidly? How can we discharge patients and ensure they won’t be readmitted days later?

Prof. Chandrasekaran is bringing key insights from his research across this variety of industries to the Center for Operational Excellence’s Dec. 2 seminar, where managers can learn how they can collaborate across departments – even across their supply chains – and avoid common roadblocks such as employee burnout, intellectual property leaks, and scope creep. His 10:30 a.m. presentation is followed by a 1 p.m. keynote from Pete Buca, a top executive at manufacturer Parker Hannifin who’s giving an inside look at the company’s remarkable collaboration with Cleveland Clinic.

COE spoke to Prof. Chandrasekaran about his research and what attendees can expect at his Dec. 2 keynote.

COE: This summer, you led a three-part “Innovation Summer” series for COE. How does your upcoming keynote build on that?

AC: We focused this summer specifically on product and process innovation by looking at companies such as 3M and Johnson & Johnson. This keynote is meant for the R&D folks that attended this summer but a much broader audience, as well. I’ll be sharing keys to the “perfect handoff” by looking at examples in manufacturing, health care and IT services, not just R&D. There’s not a single COE member that wouldn’t benefit from it.

COE: Let’s talk about health care, specifically what non-health care companies can learn from your extensive research in that field.

AC: A lot of discussion in recent years has centered on what health care can learn from other industries, particularly manufacturing. I think the reverse is true, too: In health care, you have specialists – physicians, nurses – who are extremely skilled at what they do. At the same time, you have a complex ecosystem with tons of variation across patients, even caregivers. Those two components are present in just about any industry. As a result, many of the tools and processes I’ve worked with caregivers to apply in health care can be easily transferred to other settings.

COE: Speaking of handoffs, what are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when collaborating across departments or the supply chain?

AC: I think a really common one is that departments or companies take for granted that the other party has a clear understanding of the process. This is at the root of so many problems I’ve seen in R&D and health care. There’s also a misconception that the rules and requirements established at the beginning of a process don’t change. They can, sometimes in a way that can take us by surprise. I’ll be sharing insights in my keynote that can help managers address both of these common missteps.

COE: What’s causing more of these surprises?

AC: The increasingly global nature of business plays a not insignificant role here.  More than ever, companies are dealing with language and cultural barriers, regulations and political risks – and the stakes for success have never been higher.

To register for Prof. Chandrasekaran’s keynote and the entire Dec. 2 seminar, click here.