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.
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.
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.
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.
Most 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.
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.
…but 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
The Center for Operational Excellence’s first event of 2017 is shaping up to be one of its biggest.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
Even as an icon in leadership circles who’s built a thriving, multibillion-dollar retail business, L Brands Founder, Chairman and CEO Les Wexner stays true to his roots – and is quick to acknowledge them.
“But for The Ohio State University, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college and get the basic education that helped me so significantly in my career,” he said, opening his featured keynote at the Center for Operational Excellence’s September seminar. “Every time I come back on campus, I smile to myself.”
Wexner came back on campus to headline a leadership seminar that attracted nearly 300 attendees, making it the largest in COE’s nearly 25-year history. Here’s a look back at some of his best insights over a wide-ranging discussion that covered his personal philosophy on leadership – what he called “a lifetime executive education program you have to master for yourself” – along with his outlook on the retail business and his verdict on crucial past decisions he’s made:
On the value of leadership education: “I firmly believe leadership is not just an important thing – it’s the most important thing, and it’s undervalued in high schools, colleges and universities. If there’s a single thread of teaching and learning that I try to influence at our university, and influence other educators to think about, it’s the importance of leadership as a subject.”
On what makes a great leader: “Leaders come in all shapes and sizes with virtually every characteristic and kind of personality, but they all have the ability to influence, and influence is the foundation of leadership – whether it’s by pushing from behind, coalescing the middle or being an insurgent, General Patton-type. I always default to the front; I like to churn things up and say, ‘We can take that hill, let’s charge.’”
On the virtue of adaptability: “Leaders that continue to grow are optimistic but they’re professionally curious about society and they think about adapting, trying new things, and understanding things they can’t so they can be continually relevant in their own lives. … In my thinking, the only way to test my adaptability is to do something different. It’s very important mid-career not only to have a good understand of yourself, but to think about how to exercise that curiosity muscle between your ears and be adaptive.”
On why brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay: “We’re pack animals. People like to be with people; that’s part of the human condition. It’s what they buy that changes, and one of the things that’s interesting to us is how the Internet has changed lifestyles, communication, and the consumer. … Still, we find that shopping has to be fun and interesting, and we’ve been experimenting with that for several years.”
On his game-changing decisions to spin off brands such as Abercrombie + Fitch, The Limited and Express: “I believe in life cycles. I look at those cycles and say, ‘OK, when’s the next wave coming, and is that a good or a bad thing for us? Those were very tough decisions I thought over for a long time. I gathered in my own mind the information and had to suck up some courage to do it. It turned out to be the right thing to do and it did take our business to a better place.”
On the inevitable challenge, and opportunity, of risk: “Leaders have to have a pretty good instrument on risk. We remember generals that won wars, not the ones that got killed doing foolish things. There’s that notion of knowing yourself, and leadership is about change, taking people to places that haven’t imagined. That means risk. … Leaders have a vision that’s a little different than the one that’s popular at the moment, and in that you have to assess failure. If I didn’t screw up some things, that means I didn’t push hard enough.”
On why aiming high matters: “I try to encourage our enterprise to really dream. If you don’t have a dream, you can’t have a dream come true. Still, you have to focus on ambition, in part, and separately think about the resources you need, and the risks. … The world’s changing while we’re here and it’s just going to get faster in the future. Are we stimulated by that? I am.”
On how he stays busy – and grounded: “What I worry about is running out of work – it would just be a terminal thing. I like the idea of work, and I have a substantive to-do list that’s more than I can finish. … I made a decision in my early 40s that I could make more money but I couldn’t make more time. Nobody can make more time. If I was effective and efficient, I could do more with the limited time I have.”
On why he enjoys leading: “People ask me when I’m going to retire, and I say, ‘When I’m unhappy.’ I like the people I work with, the challenges, the changes. Leaders have to be happy with themselves. If they’re not, they can’t lead themselves, let alone others.”
On the ultimate test of a leader: “The simplest measure of leadership is this: Did you actually take people to a better place? Are we better off today than we were yesterday, whether that’s in business, family or community? It’s not about how many people followed you blindly. Did you actually improve things in hindsight?”
Whether it’s at a $70 billion-a-year consumer products conglomerate or a fledgling business in the heart of the Buckeye State, innovation is the fuel that keeps organizations moving and evolving.
The Center for Operational Excellence is continuing its three-part “Innovation Summer” series in July and August with a look at two very different organizations of vastly different scope and how best practices in product development are helping them grow.
On Wednesday, July 13, COE welcomes Meri Stevens (pictured, left), the vice president of supply chain strategy and deployment at Johnson & Johnson for Innovation Summer, Part 2: Innovation Beyond Your Four Walls. Building on a June 16 keynote from Mark Anderson of 3M Co. on R&D collaboration inside the company, Stevens will share how the maker of Tylenol, Listerine, and countless other products is collaborating upstream and downstream to fuel radical, breakthrough innovation.
For Johnson & Johnson, even the very concepts of “upstream” and “downstream” are changing in an era of unprecedented consumer involvement as products such as 3-D printers extend value creation beyond the company’s borders. Stevens will share how this shift has brought about major cultural change for J&J’s thousands of supply chain employees as they work to “move the needle” for the Fortune 50 business.
Stevens’ presentation will be followed by a trio of TED Talk-like presentations from Fisher College of Business researchers, led by “Innovation Summer” organizer Prof. Aravind Chandrasekaran, on the latest insights into collaborative innovation.
Click here to register for this 8:30 a.m. to noon event at Ohio State’s Fawcett Center, exclusively for employees of COE member companies. This session is recommended for those interested in either innovation or supply chain management.
“Innovation Summer” concludes Thursday, Aug. 18, by exploring principles of the “lean startup” with a presentation from Buckeye football greats Bobby Carpenter (pictured, far left) and Anthony Schlegel (pictured, immediate left). Both Carpenter and Schlegel, Fisher College of Business MBA graduates who played for the Buckeyes and went on to be drafted in the NFL, founded The Difference USA LLC, which makes and markets a portable striking machine. Schlegel, who invented The Difference, will share along with Carpenter his journey to bring the product to life and the lasting lessons the team has learned about the process of innovation.
Registration for this event is set to open Wednesday, July 13.
The Ohio Manufacturing Institute just released the latest edition of its semi-monthly Manufacturing Tomorrow podcast, which they recorded at the Center for Operational Excellence’s Leading Through Excellence summit just last month.
Podcast Executive Producer Kathryn Kelley in this edition interviews a trio of COE members – Agrana Fruit’s John Labrador, Crown Equipment’s Craig Wreede and WillowWood’s John Matera – on what operational excellence means for them. Listen here, and check out the podcast’s website here.
COE regularly partners with OMI to bring speakers to Manufacturing Tomorrow. Past COE collaborations have resulted in podcasts interviewing Goodyear’s Norbert Majerus, COE Executive Director Peg Pennington, Snap-On Inc. CEO Nick Pinchuk and more. They’re all on the podcast archive.
Special thanks to Kathryn Kelley and the OMI team for visiting the summit and featuring our members.