COE congratulates Crane Group CEO on ‘Distinguished Service Award’ win

We’re thrilled to announce that the leader of one of our COE member companies this past week was given Ohio State University’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award: Crane Group Cos. CEO Tanny Crane.

Tanny Crane

Crane is one of Central Ohio’s top business leaders, serving as chief executive and president of the family namesake, a private holding and management company whose brands include Engineered Profiles, Able Roofing, Signature Control Systems and Suburban Steel Supply. A Fisher alumna, she’s also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council. Her company has been a COE member since 1998, making Crane Group one of the center’s longest-standing members.

Crane’s influence and drive to better her community go well beyond Fisher and her own company. She’s credited with assisting in the growth strategies of some of the Columbus area’s best-known businesses, including Huntington Bancshares and Wendy’s Co.

Read more about Tanny Crane and her accomplishments here, along with the rest of the award winners.

Business = People + Processes + Value

We might be fresh off our Dec. 7 professional development meeting featuring Worthington Industries President Mark Russell and Fisher College of Business Professor Jeff Ford, but we’re already deep into planning our event roster for next year. One of the process improvement experts you’ll have access to in 2013 is Art Byrne, author of the book The Lean Turnaround and a guest Tuesday on a regular slate of webcasts hosted by our friends at the Lean Enterprise Institute.

Byrne (pictured in an image courtesy business901.com) has experience implementing lean transformations in more than 30 companies and has spent time as a CEO, at telecommunications manufacturer Wiremold. While Byrne bills his book as one aimed at CEOs, it’s more because he views the lean turnaround from a business perspective, not simply through its key tools – and that’s a viewpoint anyone can use.

Set to speak at a May 9, 2013, COE event, Byrne touches on how the tools fit into the larger picture and how they can help develop a sustained lean culture. I like best, however, his views on the importance of perspective in lean turnarounds:

“I look at (a lean turnaround) in a very simplistic way, which is that business is a combination of people, processes and trying to deliver value to customers,” Byne told the webcast audience. “If you make it more complicated than that I’m afraid you’re just hurting yourself.”

He also takes aim at the ages-old CEO talking point of a “strategy to create shareholder value.”

“That’s a result, not a strategy,” Byrne said, adding that creating values for customers should be the strategy.

His most pointed piece of advice, though, came when discussing how damaging accepting the status quo can be, in matters as specific as lead time and as overarching as an organization’s perceived success.

“If you’re leading a business and you don’t want to dramatically improve results, from my perspective you’re in the wrong job.”

Keep an eye out on our site early next year for details on Byrne’s visit to the Fisher College of Business.

MBOE recap: Simplicity doesn’t have to be complex

Fisher Senior Lecturer Mrinalini Gadkari is breaking down a recent week in the life of Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program. Stay tuned this week for more. 

Lynn Kelley, VP of continuous improvement at Union Pacific, recently challenged students with two really interesting questions:

  • If complexity is so bad from a lean perspective, why is it prevalent in our organizations?
  • And why is simplicity resisted?
Lynn Kelley Union Pacific
Lynn Kelley, at a recent COE women’s leadership forum.

Lynn’s presentation to our MBOE students focused on the criteria behind the success and failure of lean implementations. From her current position and previous role as process improvement VP for Textron, Kelley offered up suggestions on how to develop, execute and sustain strategy.

But back to those questions. Kelley offered up this explanation: The tools we learn in continuous improvement can help us simplify processes. But continuous improvement is fraught with pitfalls. I’ll close with a few of those she listed:

  • We make continuous improvement overly complicated. In other words, “Just do it” becomes a long project.
  • Our solution might end up adding complexity or bureaucracy.
  • Our measurement of the initiative’s process might add complexity or bureaucracy.

Beyond being a great process improvement coach, Kelley has worked regularly with COE in the past through its women’s forums, helping our members fight the unproductive competition that often arises among women in the workplace. She’s pictured in this post at a recent COE forum.

Taco Bell COO hosting exclusive chat with students Friday

When the Center for Operational Excellence hosted Taco Bell COO Rob Savage on campus last month, he told the crowd it’s important to never feel stitched into one line of work.

“You have a lot of skills you can apply to different industries in different situations,” Savage said.

Taco Bell COO Rob Savage
Taco Bell COO Rob Savage spoke at a COE seminar last month.

He would know. A graduate of Ohio State University’s engineering program, he got his start in the world of manufacturing, working as a production supervisor for General Motors. Two decades ago, he joined Taco Bell as a market manager and has risen through the ranks to oversee the operations of a chain that serves 35 million customers a week.

Savage’s undying love for Ohio State (and its undefeated Buckeyes) is bringing him back to Fisher this Friday at 9 a.m. in Pfahl Hall 202 in an exclusive chat with students, hosted by COE. Fisher offers students a wealth of opportunities to interact with successful people in the world of business – but not every chance will be as intimate as this one.

The smashing success of Taco Bell in recent years (Doritos Locos Taco, anyone?) says plenty about Savage’s skills as an executive, but his passions extend well beyond expanding the brand and driving financial success. Savage is passionate about the success of students at all levels of education – and he’s here this week because he wants to be.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity. E-mail Jackie McClure at mcclure.92@osu.edu to reserve a spot.

Culture counts – inside and out

Depending on your level of skepticism about the intangible in work and in life, the notion of culture being as important – or more important – than process and strategy might ring true or completely hollow. Culture itself became an important aspect of the past two events the Center for Operational Excellence has hosted, and the arguments for its impact on building a team and dealing with the outside world are enough to convert a non-believer.

In late May, we hosted Quicken Loans President and Chief Marketing Officer Jay Farner at our quarterly professional development seminar. In a compelling look at how Quickens’ culture has driven its success, Farner said the nation’s No. 1 online mortgage lender doesn’t really talk mortgages much in its hours-long employee organization. 

Jay Farner
Quicken Loans President Jay Farner

 “We’re a technology company, we’re a marketing company and we just so happen to do mortgages,” Farner said.

 Instead, it’s all about the kind of company the employee is joining and what maxims – they call them “isms” – they need to live by. It’s this focus on “isms” such as “Every client, every time, no excuses, no exceptions” that have helped Quicken win honors for being one of the best places to work and for having one of the best corporate IT infrastructures around.

“When people join an organization, if they don’t understand what they just joined, they can’t become a part of the family or understand its philosophies,” Farner said. “How can they be expected to excel?”

 What better way to foster a sense of ownership – a do-or-die ingredient to driving process improvement – than getting everyone on the same page culturally?

A different angle on culture took center stage at COE’s June 1 forum “Business in Brazil: An Insider’s View.” A group of about 60 COE members and guests joined to hear from a trio of experts on the challenges in doing business in and with the South American country, one that’s on fire economically these days but not the easiest to navigate. Sean Corson, an international sales exec for Ohio’s Cast Nylons Ltd., gave a look at import export challenges, while David Wilson, of counsel at Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter, helped the crowd scale legal hurdles. 

Closing out last Friday was Atila Noronha, a Brazil native who’s now an executive at McDonald’s Corp. Noronha gave a lively look at the key cultural differences between the U.S. and Brazil and how they might come into play while striking a deal. 

Atila Noronha
McDonald’s Corp. executive Atila Noronha

Think the “American way” is the best route? Tell that to a Brazilian and see where your transaction goes, Noronha said.

When it comes to driving change for a group based on “my way,” that same caution might be useful.

Fisher class tours COE member Huntington

One of the Center for Operational Excellence’s many partnerships within the Fisher College of Business is its financial support of the Operations in Action class. This course launched in the 2010-11 academic year and is aimed at encouraging sophomore female students to consider operations management as a major and a career choice.

Now in its second year, the course got out in the field recently with a tour of COE member Huntington National Bank hosted by Jeannie Raymond and John Largent (click here for more photos of the student group). This was no normal walk-through. COE Associate Director Andrea Prud’homme tells me a team of students did research on Huntington and gave a presentation to the rest of the class on the morning of the visit. They then took the lead in engaging with Huntington managers and prepared questions in advance to fuel a Q&A session.

Andrea Prud'homme
COE Associate Director Andrea Prud’homme, far left, poses with Fisher students and Huntington executives at the bank’s headquarters

 

Raymond told us the bank greatly enjoyed hosting the students and said management was “very impressed by the students’ questions and their overall level of engagement and interest throughout the day.”

Huntington is one of a number of member companies that support this important course, and we’re always looking for female mentors to step up. Think that could be you? E-mail Andrea Prud’homme at prudhomme.3@osu.edu and we’ll make it happen.

COE welcomes member Mills James

You might not know the name Mills James, but chances are you’re familiar with their work.

Founded in 1984 by audio-visual production industry veterans Ken Mills and Cameron James, the company over the past three decades has grown and evolved into more than just the go-to shop for high-quality craftsmanship in Columbus. It’s a competitive player on the national stage with a broad range of capabilities and an innovative verve that feels in-step with what’s happening tomorrow.

On a tour of Mills James’ headquarters, from left: Robin Rasor Thompson, administrative director; Peter Ward, co-director; Matt Burns, program coordinator; and Peg Pennington, executive director.

It’s possible they had a hand in crafting and polishing that training video you had to watch. They might have helped you in the grocery aisle with an electronic display or served as the man behind the curtain for your company’s annual meeting. And if you’re a regular viewer of or wannabe participant in Ohio’s “Cash Explosion” lottery game show, they’ve entertained you from their home office on Columbus’ northwest side.

Mills James is the latest company to become a member of the Center for Operational Excellence, and they’re yet another great example of the ever-expanding diversity of our member base. What once was a hub for best-practice sharing among manufacturing plant managers has grown into an exciting organization whose members are committed to pursuing excellent operational practices and sharing those journeys with others. While we’ll work to provide value to Mills James, they’ll also be helping our own center as we grow our brand and deliver a better experience to all of our members.

COE formally kicked off its relationship with Mills James this week with a tour of the company’s headquarters. They were nice enough to give us a welcome that’s a tip of the hat to the movie marquee days as you see in the photo.

Now it’s our turn. Welcome to COE, Mills James.

‘Adversity is a part of life’

The arc of Gail Marsh’s personal and professional life is part success story and part cautionary tale – and she’d acknowledge that as much as anyone.

Gail was gracious enough to share that story as part of a regular series of women’s leadership breakfasts the Center for Operational Excellence hosts, sparking a discussion with nearly two-dozen women from our member companies and students at the Fisher College of Business (check out more photos here). The strategy chief for the gargantuan operation that is the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, Gail also is actively involved in community efforts around town. Those garnered her the honor of being named one of six Women of Achievement by the YWCA of Columbus last year.

Gail Marsh Wexner Medical Center
Gail Marsh shared her story and offered insights at a COE women's leadership forum.

If that isn’t enough, she’s a mother to three children she raises with her husband, Dr. Clay Marsh, an OSU professor and vice dean for research in Health Sciences and the College of Medicine.

Listening to Gail speak last week, I was impressed with how her story contains not only great wisdom for women but for anyone who works hard for what he or she earns and takes a step back, wondering how to balance it all. An undergraduate and master’s degree-earner from OSU, Gail was the proud owner of post-graduate student loans as she worked her way up in the male-dominated world of health-care administration, found love and started a family. It was the loss her mother that prompted her to realize she was moving too fast, life was too short and she needed to hit the reset button. With that, she began to create a work-life balance she says she’s still working to perfect, even though it has the flexibility she needs.

Not that her flexible schedule came on a silver platter.

“You have to be stellar at what you do for people to give you flexibility,” she said. “Everybody is balancing things.”

Some other wisdom Gail imparted at our event:

On taking the plunge into community service: “If you wait until all your work is done, your laundry’s done and all your kids have straight As you’ll never do it.”

On the secret to her own life: “Understanding that adversity is a part of life is the secret to my life now. It’s just going to be that way.”

On career mobility: “I like to think my promotions in the medical center have been because I know how to solve problems.”

Check out more from Gail in a video tied to her Women of Achievement honor.

A great idea without data = Whining

Matt Burns

The Center for Operational Excellence earlier this week hosted a kickoff event for the IT Leadership Network, a new subgroup of COE you’ll be hearing more a lot more about in the future. While turnout – for an offsite event at Nationwide Insurance – was great at nearly 200 people, I was equally impressed by our keynote speaker.

Mike Orzen, who quite literally wrote the book on lean and IT (it’s, uhh, called Lean IT), emerged as one of the most dynamic and engaging speakers I’ve had the pleasure to hear since joining the center several months ago. While the content of his presentation was tailored to an IT audience, the kernels of wisdom he shared about lean thinking and its place in an organization were universal and applicable to anyone at any point in their lean journey.

Speaker Mike Orzen
Speaker Mike Orzen

That’s why I’d like to share some of them with you right now.

“We’re really really good at describing what lean is. We don’t have a good track record of being lean and staying lean.” – This quote speaks to a topic of rising importance to our membership: Sustaining process improvements after the tools initially have been used. This is a challenge many of us face and is often tied to the level of engagement or buy-in at all levels of the organization.

“When everything’s a priority, nothing is a priority.” – Orzen was a wizard at getting to the heart of problem solving in a lean culture: Identifying what the problem truly is, not through the prism of our own work but in the prism of how it’s affecting the customer experience.

“Lean is invented by everybody in this room. It’s a growing body of knowledge.” – These are, I believe, the most important words Orzen spoke on Tuesday. Lean isn’t just a collection of scholarly articles and books. It’s a living, breathing way of doing and thinking that can take the shape of whatever problem is before you.

“The No. 1 value I see in many organizations: Self-preservation.” – No explanation needed here.

“We often see things from our paradigm. The hardest thing to do is to see reality.” – File this bit of wisdom under “Siloes,” what Orzen wisely describes as a necessary evil in organizations as they create and nurture specialization, but a factor that can complicate communication and efforts to see the whole value stream.

“A great idea without data – some people call that whining.” – Indeed.

COE member Giant Eagle gets national TV spotlight

If any of you watch CBS Sunday Morning and live in Columbus, chances are you paused mid-coffee sip this past edition during a five-minute segment on the capital city.

The five-minute piece, which you can watch in its entirety here, starts with a look at how Dublin-based Wendy’s tests its new products, pointing to the Columbus area as a perfect place for product testing for a diverse population that creates “a near-perfect cross-section of the country’s consumers.” That’s thanks in part, of course, to Ohio State University and its international student contingent.

Along with tips of the hat to restaurant upstart Piada and the Jeni’s ice cream empire and a brief appearance by Center for Operational Excellence member Nationwide Insurance, the piece broadens into a look at the uniqueness of the city and what makes it tick.

Make it to about 3:13 in the videoand you’ll recognize another COE member: Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, whose Market District concept in Upper Arlington was dubbed by the segment as “the mother of all grocery stores.” If you’ve been there and seen the store’s blend of restaurant-quality meals on the spot, wide selections in every category and the biggest sweet potatoes and onions you’ll ever see, it’s hard to disagree. 

Giant Eagle’s Market District
“Giant Eagle’s Market District location in Upper Arlington is a jaw-dropping shopper’s paradise.” Photo courtesy columbusfoodie.com

Giant Eagle is just one of our many COE members making waves with innovative new concepts, driven by an underlying focus on operational excellence. Whatever lean thinking led the chain to try selling wine by the glass in the Market District store to allow sipping while you shop, well – keep up the good work.