COE in 2017: The Year in Review

18 events. More than 60 presentations, workshops, tours and benchmarking opportunities. Countless “a-ha!” moments.

The Center for Operational Excellence’s 25-year milestone was its busiest ever, and plans are in the works for another exciting year of programming designed to connect our members to the latest best practices in process excellence. With the new year just days away, we’re offering a look back at some of our event highlights from 2017 …

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

January 2017: COE started and ended its year with member Huntington National Bank opening its doors to share how it’s driven transformational change.  Huntington hosted the first of four “grassroots” benchmarking sessions, where leaders from more than a dozen COE member companies meet quarterly at a host company to share best practices on a specific topic. Interested in joining the group? Contact session moderator and COE Executive Director Peg Pennington at pennington.84@osu.edu.

April 2017: For its fifth-annual summit Leading Through Excellence summit, COE took hundreds of members to seven different tour sites across the state of Ohio. Here, leaders from member Engineered Profiles show tour attendees best practices in leader standard work, a tour being offered again during the 2018 summit.

April 2017: Buckeyes Football Coach Urban Meyer kicked off the third and final day of COE’s Leading Through Excellence summit, sharing insights from his personal journey and encouraging attendees to always keep a look out for the next great idea: “Always learn. There’s always someone out there doing a great job with something.”

June 2017: How can lean principles apply to a nationally renowned startup culture? And what can big companies learn from it? COE’s popular I.T. Leadership Network series returned with a presentation from Nate Lusher (pictured, left) and Rick Neighbarger from Columbus-based healthcare software company CoverMyMeds. COE is offering a tour of CoverMyMeds’ award-winning headquarters during its 2018 Leading Through Excellence summit.

June 2017: Paula Bennett, CEO of women’s apparel retailer J.Jill, spoke to an at-capacity crowd for COE’s Women’s Leadership Forum series. Bennett, a graduate of Fisher College of Business, recently took the company public, staking out rare territory in the IPO scene: Research has shown that only about 3% of IPOs in the past decade have been led by a female CEO.

talent war wide shot
COE’s collaborative session in July drew nearly 140 attendees seeking insights on “winning the talent war.”

July 2017: A pair of summer sessions COE presented in collaboration with three other centers at Fisher kicked off in July with a look at the “talent war,” featuring a presentation from the Brookings Institution on changing workforce dynamics and a wide-ranging panel discussion with human resources leaders from Cardinal Health, Marathon Petroleum, Nationwide and Wendy’s. COE’s collaborative summer sessions will return in 2018 on June 27 and Aug. 8. Stay tuned for programming details.

Cisco’s Jeremy Aston

August 2017: COE’s summer sessions continued with a look at the “Digital Vortex” and how disruptive competitors are shaking up the business landscape for even the most established companies. Cisco’s Jeremy Aston (pictured, above) kicked off the session with a keynote on the company’s research, which has found that, while executives are expecting digital disruption, too few are actively preparing for it.

 

brutus buckeye peg pennington
Brutus Buckeye stopped by COE’s 25 anniversary celebration to ring in the occasion with Executive Director Peg Pennington.

September 2017: COE formally celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sept. 15, ringing in a quarter century of driving a culture of continuous learning in the broader business community, complete with a visit from Brutus Buckeye.

September 2017: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. executive Billy Taylor (pictured, above) closed out COE’s anniversary celebration by sharing insights on how companies can drive change by engaging their people.

COE offers opportunities for students and members to connect at all of its events.

October 2017: COE’s semi-annual Supply Chain Symposium series held its second event of the year, connecting center member companies with Fisher MBA students pursuing careers in the field. Author and North Carolina State University Prof. Robert Handfield keynoted the session with insights from his latest, The Living Supply Chain.

Jeff Sturm, executive vice president and chief continuous improvement officer at Huntington National Bank, kicked off COE’s final event of the year with a keynote on how the organization is driving cultural change.

December 2017: How can we drive cultural change by changing the questions we ask our people? Opening up COE’s final event of 2017, Huntington National Bank EVP and Chief Continuous Improvement Officer Jeff Sturm showed how the organization has instilled leadership behaviors that are helping sustain a years-long cultural change effort. Sturm’s session, along with that of afternoon keynote Tim Judge, is available to stream in full-length and “ShortCut” versions on our members-only website.

Next year … COE already has a number of events listed on its website. Check out our roster – and grab your seat soon for Leading Through Excellence 2018, April 10-12!

Report: Digital technology changing many American jobs, industries

Are you thinking about how your process excellence journey is going to guide your organization – and yourself – through the digital future?

You certainly should be.

A report released this month by the Brookings Institution titled “Digitization and the American Workforce” paints a fascinating picture of how digital technology is changing the jobs we do. Brookings analyzed how the digital content of more than 500 jobs has changed since 2001. According to the report, the share of jobs requiring a low digital skill level has plunged from 56 percent to 30 percent, while those requiring a high level of digital skill vaulted from a mere 5 percent in 2002 to 23 percent last year.

How does that look close up? Brookings assigned a “digital score” ranging from 1 to 100 for the hundreds of jobs it analyzed – a software developer, for example, scores a 94 these days, while a construction worker scores a 17. Tracking the change in less than two decades, Brookings researchers found some jobs have seen a startling spike in their digital score: In 2002, a tool and die maker had a digital score of 2. Last year, that same occupation scored a 51, putting it in the digital skill ranks of nurses and automotive service techs. As for the general and operations managers that make up many of our Center for Operational Excellence members, their digital score grew from 50 in 2002 to 61 last year.

Brookings also tracked digital scores at the state and metropolitan level by sizing up their industry/job spread, finding Ohio’s mean digital score nearly double in a decade and a half, from 24 to 45. Columbus saw similar growth, moving from a relatively low-skill average of 25 in 2002 to the medium range — 42 — by last year.

What does all this mean? On the plus side, Brookings researchers said, it’s driving potential for increased productivity and higher pay ranges. On the minus side, digital skill and the growth of digital technology are unevenly spread across industries and regions, which could be widening pay disparities and stifling job creation in certain sectors.

The bottom line, however, is that digital skill is a must – and training and education programs will need to act accordingly. Brookings researchers recommend prioritizing growth in the high-skill IT talent pipeline and basic digital literacy, the latter to prevent a wide swath of American jobs from being “off-limits” to people who need them most.

Check out Brookings’ website for full details on the report.

Fisher launches new analytics master’s degree program

In your pocket. On your wrist. In your shopping cart. On your browser.

Data are everywhere, and companies’ demand for workers who have the skills to translate those into insights is only growing by the day. The McKinsey Global Institute has predicted a gap of nearly 200,000 workers in the U.S. with deep analytical skills – just by next year. The gap for data-savvy managers with analytical skills is even wider, at 1.5 million and counting.

The Center for Operational Excellence’s home at Fisher College of Business is responding to this gap by launching a new graduate degree that’s set to offer its first classes next fall: the Specialized Master of Business in Business Analytics (SMB-A). In announcing the program last month, Fisher said the program is built to equip professionals with an understanding of the science of data analytics and its impact on business innovation, productivity and growth. Applications are being accepted now.

“Fisher’s SMB-A program directly addresses this workforce need and the needs of countless businesses and organizations around the world,” said Greg Allenby, co-academic director of the SMB-A program and a professor of marketing and logistics. “Data and data collection is in everything we do — from how we shop, to how we choose our music to how we consume our news and entertainment.

The SMB-A program is the third master’s program Fisher has launched in the past decade and comes just nine years after the debut of the Master of Business Operational Excellence program. MBOE, which launched largely as a result of COE member demand, has trained hundreds of lean leaders since its inception in 2008 and is heading into its 10th cohort next month.

Fisher’s latest innovation, the SMB-A, also represents another example of the college’s continuing efforts to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. After rolling out course options and offering weekend bus service for students in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dayton this year, Fisher announced the SMB-A program will be a blend of online and weekend classes.

Spanning 10 months, the program has a curriculum built around descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics and includes a “capstone” project using real data from students’ employers or other businesses partnering with Fisher.

Waleed Muhanna, co-academic director of the SMB-A program and a professor of accounting and management information systems at Fisher, called the program a “relevant, high-impact graduate degree that appeals to professionals from across multiple fields and industries.”

“Those who enroll in the SMB-A are taking control of their career development as data-savvy professionals and consultants and are choosing to elevate themselves as leaders in an area that is critical to business now and for generations to come,” Muhanna said.

Want to know more? Check out the SMB-A website.

Summer session explores opportunities, risks of digital disruption

Nearly three-quarters of a century into its existence, Safelite Group has reason to act like a market leader – it is one.

The ubiquitous Columbus-based glass repair and replacement services company has a presence in all 50 states, with the capability to serve about 97 percent of U.S. drivers. Even 70 years after its founding, it’s in growth and acquisition mode.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Safelite isn’t keeping an eye out for disruptors waiting in the wings to turn the business on its ear.

“We’re looking over our shoulder,” said Bruce Millard, the company’s vice president of digital and customer innovation. “We’re asking, ‘Who has the velocity to potentially cause us problems?’”

Millard was one of four speakers at the second of two summer sessions focused on top business challenges and co-hosted by the Center for Operational Excellence along with three other centers housed at Fisher College of Business: The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the National Center for the Middle Market and The Risk Institute. After surveying the state of the “talent war” in July, the centers brought together industry executives and academic experts to offer a mix of exciting developments, sobering realities and paths forward in the rapidly shifting world of data analytics and digital disruption.

Cisco’s Jeremy Aston

In his kickoff keynote, Jeremy Aston of tech communication giant Cisco shared how much — and how little — has changed in how companies are viewing and preparing for the threat of digital disruption. Cisco’s Global Center for Digital Business Transformation in a 2015 survey of nearly 1,000 executives found 15 percent said digital disruption was already occurring in their respective industries. At the same time, a scant one in 250 of those surveyed said digital trends would have a transformative impact on their industry. Fast-forward to a new survey round this year and the shift is staggering: Half of those surveyed said disruption was ongoing, while nearly one in three foresaw a transformative effect.

“Today, we’re under pressure to transform and perform,” said Aston, senior director of the Go to Market and Offer Monetization Office at Cisco.

One statistic that changed little in the two-year span hints at a gap Cisco’s research has found between companies’ awareness and action. In 2015, a quarter of those surveyed said they were “actively responding” to digital disruption. That number rose to just 31 percent this year.

“That is a dangerous game to play,” Aston said.

Drive Capital’s Mark Kvamme

While the media/entertainment trades and Cisco’s own technology products and services niche are easily most vulnerable to disruption, few – if any – parts of the economy are immune to companies born in today’s digital-first world. Speaker Mark Kvamme, a former Ohio economic development official and partner at venture capital investment firm Drive Capital, shared a dynamic portrait of “born digital” companies in Drive’s investment portfolio. One of them, Columbus-based startup CrossChx, has launched an artificial intelligence-enabled tool for the health-care industry that synthesizes and automates high-volume, repetitive tasks — prior authorizations, appointment reminders — outside the scope of patient care. On the analytics front, Columbus-based FactGem — run by Megan Kvamme — is helping companies translate hordes of data from far-flung sources into actionable intelligence.

All these innovations, Kvamme said, point to an unavoidable truth: “The amount of change we’re going to see in the next five to 10 years is going to spin everybody’s heads.”

A world of opportunity, however, also means a world of risk. Professor Dennis Hirsch, who runs the Program on Data and Governance at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, closed out the session with a look at the tricky terrain of data analytics in technology, which already has destroyed some players (student data repository InBloom) and led to serious brand damage for others (Uber).

“Big data is a crystal ball,” Hirsch said, “and that means it can be used for good — and for bad.”

As companies move forward, Hirsch said, it’ll be incumbent upon them to establish processes and guiding values that protect customers and treat them fairly. Technology and its innovative uses for data, in fact, are outrunning the law itself.

“The law hasn’t caught up, and to some extent it never will,” Hirsch said. “We need to be asking, ‘What does it mean to be responsible beyond just compliance?’”

A key tool companies can use as they make decisions on these issues, and the broader world of digital transformation, is a decidedly non-technological notion at heart: process. From a legal and ethical perspective, that means establishing them on the front end to mitigate the risks of leveraging big data. From a business agility standpoint, Aston of Cisco said in opening the day, that means having a perspective that extends beyond the flashy innovation itself.

“We have to make thoughtful decisions,” Aston said, “and we can’t just be focused on technological outcomes. What’s the business outcome you need to drive?”

DHL Supply Chain riding digital wave with ‘smart glasses’ pilot

The digital wave continues to wash over the global economy, and it’s making a big splash at a Center for Operational Excellence member company.

dhl supply chainMember DHL Supply Chain this month announced that it has completed a pilot of a new augmented reality addition to its warehouse picking operations, equipping employees with “smart glasses.” By wearing these glasses, employees have instant access to visual displays that give picking instructions, along with details on where the item is located and where it should be placed on carts.

DHL Supply Chain in a press release said it’s seen boosts of productivity of up to 15 percent during pilot tests in the U.S. and in Europe, CIO and COO Markus Voss calling the digitalization “not just a vision or a program” but “a reality for us and our customers.”

DHL Supply Chain is one of many companies grappling and experimenting with the role of digital technology in legacy business models that, in some industries, haven’t seen radical disruption in generations. The challenge of digitization was the subject of an event just this week at The Ohio State Univeristy, where COE partnered with three other Fisher centers to address challenges and opportunities in this area.

In the opening keynote, Cisco executive Jeremy Aston shared research from the company’s Global Center for Digital Business Transformation showing that in just two years, companies’ perspectives on digitization have shifted drastically. In 2015, only 15 percent of surveyed companies told Cisco and its partners that digital disruption was already occurring in their industry. That number jumped to 49 percent this year. At the same time, roughly one in three of the executives surveyed told Cisco that digitization would have a transformative impact on their industry. Just two years ago, that perspective was shared by one in 250 surveyed executives.

DHL Supply Chain hinted that the “smart glasses” picking pilot is just the start, with plans to look at leveraging this technology in training and maintenance functions, among others.

CoverMyMeds: Experiment, innovate, grow – hold the jargon

The routine “Best Places to Work” features that offer a snapshot of what it’s like to be a part of Columbus-based CoverMyMeds often focus on what stands out at first glance: The pool tables, the beer tap, the jeans-day-every-day vibe.

nate lusher covermymeds
Nate Lusher of CoverMyMeds presenting at the June 6 COE event.

Nate Lusher, an agile coach at the health-care software startup, says the key to understanding the company’s culture is to look closer.

“Those are great, but they’re not what’s going to keep you there for the long haul,” Lusher told attendees at a Center for Operational Excellence event Tuesday. “They’re an expression of our deeper culture.”

Lusher and colleague Rick Neighbarger, director of quality and risk management at CoverMyMeds, offered a peek inside the Columbus company’s culture at the latest meeting of COE’s IT Leadership Network series. They also detailed their own efforts to make tools and behaviors key to continuous improvement a part of it, a challenge that’s intrinsic to process improvement efforts at companies of any size.

CoverMyMeds, which automates the once-cumbersome prior-approval process for prescriptions, has been a part of the Columbus business community for not even a decade but has drawn attention for its rapid growth and status as a sought-after place of employment. The last time CoverMyMeds disclosed its annual revenue – about two years ago – it was nearing the $100 million mark, and the company just this year closed a deal to be acquired by health-care giant McKesson Corp. for more than $1 billion. Columbus Business First called the acquisition the biggest tech startup exit in the city’s history.

Beneath that surface layer of culture, which the company notably pledged to keep following the sale, is one that values and trusts its people. And the people themselves, Neighbarger and Lusher said, are primed to experiment and take action.

“We’re not afraid to try something out,” Lusher said. “We’d much rather dive in and do it and learn from something.”

The effort of turning that experimentation into lessons learned and, eventually, better processes has included the introduction of a number of lean and agile tools at CoverMyMeds: Kanbans and story cards, metrics on cycle time and work in process (WIP), and an articulated vision of product ownership, just to name a few.

What’s crucial, Neighbarger said, is not what the tools are but how they’re deployed.

“You can’t just pick up techniques that a large multi-national bank uses and drop them into a small health-care IT company,” he said. “You have to tailor your techniques to principles.”

That principle-first approach ultimately has helped gain traction at CoverMyMeds as the company works to deploy a broader quality strategy that continues to manage risks amid continued growth. In short, the jargon matters much less than the results.

“Our goal is not to become ‘agile,’” Lusher said. “Our goal is to become great.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for the morning event.

‘Joy Inc.’ author, former summit keynote Sheridan returning in May

Miss last year’s Leading Through Excellence summit? Looking to revisit one of our most popular keynotes?

Rich Sheridan during his keynote at Leading Through Excellence 2015
Rich Sheridan during his keynote at Leading Through Excellence 2015

The Center for Operational Excellence is partnering with Fisher College of Business’ Master of Business Operational Excellence program to bring to campus Rich Sheridan, CEO of award-winning software developer Menlo Innovations LLC and author of Joy Inc. Employees of COE member companies are invited to join MBOE program alumni the morning of Friday, May 13, for a keynote by Sheridan, who kicked off the 2015 Leading Through Excellence summit and led a half-day workshop.

A programmer by trade, Sheridan entered the corporate world and found at the midpoint of his career that he no longer experienced the joy that had drawn him to the industry. After losing his job as a software development executive when the dot-com bubble burst, he founded Menlo Innovations in 2001, saying the company’s purpose was to “bring joy to the world through software.” Menlo has gone on to win the Alfred P. Sloan award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility for eight straight years and has earned five revenue awards from Inc. magazine.

In his keynote, based on Joy Inc., Sheridan will offer an inside look at the culture that’s flourished at Menlo over the last 15 years that leverages visual management, an open and collaborative workspace, and a “fail fast” ethos that has garnered attention nationwide. All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of Sheridan’s book, Joy Inc.

Click here to register for this limited-capacity event.

Seminar Preview: AEP, Abbott show agility, resilience in changing times

The two featured speakers at the Center for Operational Excellence’s upcoming quarterly seminar might be from two wildly different industries, but they’re both bringing stories that illustrate a stark truth about the world today: The rules of the game are changing, and standing still isn’t an option.

Mark McCullough, AEP
Mark McCullough, AEP

COE on Friday, Feb. 13, is hosting from member American Electric Power Company Inc. Mark McCullough, executive vice president of generation. Taking the stage in the afternoon is Matthew Roberts, divisional vice president of global product development for founding member Abbott Nutrition.

In the greater Columbus area, AEP and Abbott each rank among its 50 largest employers, with a combined local payroll of nearly 6,000, according to research from Columbus Business First.

While both companies have well-deserved reputations as leaders in their respective industries, they also share common ground in facing serious external headwinds in recent years .

For AEP, it’s national and state-level energy policies that can have far-reaching implications for the company’s short- and long-term growth strategies and generation profile. Just in the last half-decade, AEP has seen its home state – where its AEP Ohio subsidiary lights up nearly 1.5 million customers – decisively shift toward electricity deregulation, leaving behind the days of a more predictable fixed-rate structure.

Matthew Roberts, Abbott Nutrition
Matthew Roberts, Abbott Nutrition

As the purveyor of products ranging from Similac to Ensure, Abbott Nutrition not only is at the mercy of changing customer tastes but shifting demographics – namely longer-living seniors. At the turn of the new century, people ages 65 and older in the U.S. represented about one in eight Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates they’ll represent one in five just 15 years from now.

On a day-to-day level, these changes to the business environment have spurred each company to action in different ways. For AEP, this has taken the form of a still-young but promising lean transformation that grew out of the company’s generation facilities, closely linked to traditional “shop floor” applications of its principles, and has steadily made its way to more “invisible” processes across the organization, namely information technology. Abbott, meanwhile, has mounted an organizational transformation of its people and processes within its research and development function as it fills its innovation pipeline and drives growth.

Don’t miss the chance to hear from McCullough and Roberts on what they’ve learned along the way and what the future holds for their organizations.

At a glance

  • Date: Friday, Feb. 13, 2015
  • Time: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (networking lunch included)
  • Location: The Blackwell, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus, OH
  • Register here

Webinar explores challenges, payoffs of electronic communications

Connecting far-flung employees – across an office or across the globe – is becoming an increasingly common challenge for companies of any size. A number of organizations have turned to technological solutions for town halls, top leadership updates and team meetings – but how can they ensure communication leads to results and isn’t lost along the way?

mills jamesThe Center for Operational Excellence is thrilled to partner with member Mills James to offer a hybrid case study / discussion panel webinar featuring leaders from two of the largest companies in Ohio who have successfully embedded technology into their communication efforts: Procter & Gamble and Cardinal Health.

Joining the webcast on Friday, Nov. 14, from noon to 1 p.m. EST from P&G is Kip Fanta, associate director of Employee Experience/Meetings and Collaboration, an employee of the Cincinnati-based consumer products giant for more than 20 years who has worked in a variety of roles. From Cardinal Health is Eileen Lehmann, who directs internal communications and oversees the application of technology to communications problems.

Fanta and Lehmann will be joined by Mills James VP Bruce Reid and COE Executive Director Peg Pennington.

This isn’t a webinar about what technology your organization should choose – it’s an exploration of how these can be used to drive employee engagement, align an organization with strategic goals and drive results in the short and long term. Participants will offer their insights on what worked, what didn’t, and how companies of any size can take action.

Click here to register for the webinar.