COE celebrates 25-year milestone

The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is celebrating its quarter-century milestone, which was formally recognized at a Sept. 15 seminar, where featured keynotes included LeanCor CEO Robert Martichenko and Goodyear executive Billy Taylor.

Check out the resources below to review recaps, video and photos from the event …

leancor robert martichenko
LeanCor Supply Chain Group CEO Robert Martichenko was one of two featured speakers for COE’s 25th anniversary celebration.

‘We have to connect the business’ – LeanCor Founder and CEO Robert Martichenko draws from his more than 20 years in lean supply chain leadership to share insights on how businesses need to speak a “new language” to truly deliver customer value in an era of unprecedented disruption.

For COE members: Access a full-length and 15-minute highlight recording of Martichenko’s keynote in COE’s members-only Digital Content Archive (authenticated user account required).

Goodyear executive Billy Taylor closed out COE’s 25th anniversary celebration.

‘Engaged, empowered people are your greatest asset’ – Billy Taylor, who oversees all North American manufacturing for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., delivers a dynamic keynote address focusing on his experience as a plant manager, where he discovered the value of engaging employees and giving them a sense of ownership over corporate strategy. Check out a 15-minute highlight video of Taylor’s keynote below …

For COE members: In addition to the 15-minute preview above, access a full-length recording of Taylor’s keynote in COE’s members-only Digital Content Archive (authenticated user account required).

peter ward coe 25th anniversary

‘Our members lead the way’ – COE Co-Director Peter Ward reflects on 25 years of the center partnering with the operational excellence business community and offers insights on what’s ahead. Ward, who has been with COE in some capacity since its founding in 1992, says the center quickly learned “our best ideas came when we listened.”

brutus buckeye peg pennington

A quarter-century celebration – Get your photo with Brutus Buckeye during the celebratory lunch at COE’s September seminar? Check out an album of photos from Brutus’ visit and download your photo via our Flickr page. To download a photo: Click on the image and, on the page that appears, select the downward-facing arrow to the bottom-right of the photo.

COE at 25: A look back – and ahead

The following is a lightly edited version of remarks COE Co-Director Peter Ward delivered at COE’s 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 15, 2017.

peter ward coe 25th anniversary
COE Co-Director and Fisher College of Business Senior Associate Dean Peter Ward delivering formal remarks at COE’s 25th anniversary celebration.

We spend a lot of time as organizations preparing ourselves for the future, and that’s a smart move given the change we see all around us. But on the occasion of the Center for Operational Excellence’s 25th anniversary, let’s take a moment and look back.

In 1992, the then-new dean of today’s Fisher College of Business, Joe Alutto, visited the Department of Management Sciences with a compliment (of sorts) – and a challenge. The department, he said, was making strides in academic research and students loved the classes, but a disconnect existed with local industry. Can that change?

Our journey started there, with the founding of the Center for Excellence in Manufacturing Management, which the university recognized in the summer of 1992.

Getting started

After our first four members signed on — Central States Can, Lennox Industries, Copeland Corp. and Ross Labs — we quickly realized a very important lesson that’s become central to everything we’ve done in the quarter-century since: Our best ideas came when we listened, rather than when we talked. Hearing our members’ needs has directed COE’s path from the beginning and that continues. Our members’ issues are our issues, and our members lead the way.

That same momentum from our members helped us understand in the center’s first years that operational excellence wasn’t solely for manufacturing. Leadership, problem solving and process improvement are key to all industries – and that’s what led us to change our name to the Center for Operational Excellence little more than a decade after being founded. As we welcomed into the fold companies from the banking, insurance and healthcare industries, our members once again helped set our course and, ultimately, bring meaning to our work.

In 25 years, we’ve racked up some impressive numbers: five summits; 95 quarterly meetings; 300 COE-sponsored research papers; 500 workshops, seminars and tours; 700 student internships secured through COE member companies; and more than 20,000 admissions to our events.

But the true measure of the impact our members have helped make, for me, is in the moments that don’t have a number: The manager who lost his job in tough economic times and leveraged his center relationships to bring new vitality to his career; the MBA student who struggled to define herself until she tapped into the world of operational excellence; or the executive struggling with a seemingly insurmountable problem who turned to center colleagues for a solution. Our journey is teeming with these stories.

The next 25 … 

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

After 25 years, a big question looms: Where to from here? The pace of change increases every day, and it’s by no means a stretch to assume the business world will evolve more in the next five years than it has in the last 25. One thing will hold constant, though: We’ll still need problem solvers, we’ll still need leaders, and we’ll still need people like our members, who work at the intersection of problem solving and leadership.

As we begin our next 25-year stretch, it’s the ideas and challenges of our members that will determine our future. Thanks for making us a part of your journey – I can’t wait to see what’s next …

Peter Ward
Co-Director, COE
Senior Associate Dean, Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University

New Fisher profs bring analytics, sustainability expertise

The Center for Operational Excellence’s home academic department at Fisher College of Business is welcoming three new faculty members this fall with a range of expertise.

Here’s a look at who’s new at the Department of Management Sciences:

C. Blanco

Christian Blanco joins Fisher as an assistant professor of operations management after receiving his PhD from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Blanco’s research is centered on helping firms develop sustainable and safe supply chains, addressing a gap he says he sees in available resources.

“Many firms are now responding to climate change-related risks, but the tools how to effectively manage these risks remain limited,” Blanco said.

Before joining the PhD program at UCLA, Blanco was part of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at UC Berkeley. He collaborated with a team of scientists in developing a model called “SWITCH” that identifies the least-cost combination of energy technologies that will provide low-carbon electricity in 11 western states.

E. McKie

 Erin McKie comes to Fisher as an assistant professor of management science from the PhD program at the University of South Carolina. McKie’s research is focused on sustainable operations, closed-loop supply chains and environmental regulations.

McKie’s work has been presented at various practitioner and industry conferences, including the Decision Sciences, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) annual meetings.

Before returning to academia, McKie worked as a management consultant for Unum Group in the areas of operations, business systems, and strategy development.

H. Park

Hyunwoo Park has joined Fisher as an assistant professor in management sciences from the postdoctoral fellowship program at Georgia Tech’s Tennenbaum Institute. He holds a PhD in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech.

Park’s research interests include business and data analytics, supply network management, technology and innovation management, and digital platforms. His research has been published in a range of scholarly research publications — among them, Decision Sciences, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and Research Policy — while just this year he was a finalist for top awards from the Academy of Management and INFORMS.

The new professors are joining a department ranked among the best in the country for students and research. It’s No. 1-ranked worldwide by the Journal of Operations Management, while it makes the top 10 in a broader set of four major operations management journals ranked by the University of Texas-Dallas. A number of Management Sciences faculty members serve as associate directors for COE, helping connect members leverage their relevant research to solve real-world business challenges.

Fisher Prof. Craig wins ‘best paper’ honor for retail industry research

A professor in the academic department closely affiliated with the Center for Operational Excellence is part of a team that took home a top research award for a recent paper on the retail industry.

nate craig fisher
Prof. Nathan Craig

Fisher Assistant Prof. Nathan Craig traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to accept the Ralph Gomory Best Industry Studies Paper Award, given annually by the Industry Studies Association. Craig and co-authors Nicole DeHoratius (University of Chicago) and Ananth Raman (Harvard Business School) clinched the honor for their paper “The Impact of Supplier Inventory Service Level on Retailer Demand,” published last year in Manufacturing and Service Operations Management.

The journal where Craig’s work was published was one of seven in a pool of contenders for the prize, which was judged by top researchers at universities in North America and Europe.

The winning paper breaks new ground in the field of retail research, which largely has examined business-to-consumer relationships in the past. Craig and his co-authors moved upstream in the supply chain to focus exclusively on the relationship between supplier service levels and retailer demand. By conducting a field experiment at Hugo Boss, Craig and his team were able to quantify the impact of a supplier boosting its fill rate, or the percentage of a customer order satisfied by a shipment. Specifically, an increase of only 1% in supplier fill rate lead to an 11% increase in retailer demand.

What does this mean for suppliers to retailers? Even the best ones, Craig and his team found, can fuel substantial increases in retailer demand by working toward incremental service-level gains. And those who ignore this link are missing out on a prime opportunity to boost profit and grow market share.

Check out the Management Sciences research portal for more on the latest work from Fisher’s top-ranked operations faculty.

New Fisher program seeks to fill pipeline of women supply chain leaders

While only about two in every five undergraduate supply chain-focused students at universities are women, they hold a scant 3 percent of executive-level leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies. The Management Sciences department at Fisher College of Business this fall has launched a new initiative seeking to grow those numbers at both ends of the pipeline.

pathways scholars
This year’s Pathway Scholars with representatives from Motorists, Wendy’s QSCC and Management Sciences.

The department this academic year welcomed its first round of scholars in the Pathways for Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain program, a group of eight first-year undergraduate women at Fisher College of Business. Each student has received a $2,500 scholarship, funded by this year’s Pathways Scholars sponsors: Columbus-based Motorists Insurance Group and Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Cooperative.

Management Sciences Department Chair Ken Boyer said he worked to launch the program for reasons both personal and practical. He’s the son of one of the first women to earn a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin 60 years ago.

“Barriers to women in a variety of professions have been greatly reduced in the intervening decades,” Boyer said. “Unfortunately, this is far different from saying there are no challenges.”

Indeed, data from research firm Gartner shows women staff only 20 percent of supply chain leadership roles at the director level and higher. This comes as the nation’s supply chain workforce faces a troubling shortage as waves of baby boomer retirements crest.

Krista Pohlman, senior director of program management for Wendy’s QSSC, said developing the company’s talent pipeline was a key motivator in signing on to fund the Pathways Scholars program.

“We really want to be a world-class supply chain organization,” Pohlman said. “To collaborate with Ohio State in an effort to bring more women into this industry is something we’re immensely proud of.”

Ralph Smithers, assistant VP of Associate and Community Engagement at Motorists, said the company approached the opportunity with similar goals.

“We’d like to increase the number of women in the supply chain management field, and it’s a great opportunity to work with Fisher on this,” he said.

The scholars in the program, in addition to their funding, connect with mentors from Motorists and QSSC over the course of the year and receive coaching from Fisher professors. They also connect with supply chain organizations through several exclusive events hosted throughout the year. Already this fall, the students have toured Wendy’s and Wendy’s GSCC, attended a National Association of Women Business Owners conference, and met with supply chain leaders from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nestle USA and DSW Inc.

Ultimately, Boyer said, the participating students will be well-positioned to find supply chain leadership roles as they enter the workforce.

For information on the Pathways program and sponsorship, check out its website or contact Ken Boyer at boyer.9@osu.edu.

Fisher collaboration brings op-ex tools to realm of education

An unconventional effort to reform Ohio’s K-12 education system is sending a new pack of leaders out with more than an MBA from Fisher College of Business and a certification to serve as a principal.

They can wield some foundational operational excellence tools, as well.

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BRIGHT fellow Shaun Mitchell, right, shares the results of his A3 problem-solving project.

Fisher this summer graduated 30 students as part of the BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools program after they spent nearly a year working as administrators in high-poverty schools around the state and completed an accelerated MBA program at Fisher. The program, launched in 2015 with $3.5 million in state funding and help from Fisher and the Ohio Business Roundtable, takes business professionals from a variety of backgrounds – largely non-education – and deploys them throughout the state as principals. BRIGHT fellows, as they’re called, must serve as a school administrator for at least three years after graduation.

At a presentation prior to graduation, a number of BRIGHT fellows showed the results of their work tackling the A3 problem-solving methodology, one of a few tools Center for Operational Excellence Executive Director and BRIGHT educator Peg Pennington introduced to the curriculum.

“The BRIGHT program itself is an experiment, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not do an experiment of our own here?’” Pennington said. “These problem-solving skills – A3s, root-cause analysis – are powerful tools anywhere, and I think they can really help cut to the heart of some of issues that plague our education system.”

For the BRIGHT fellows, those issues included lagging math and reading scores, a lack of collaboration between upper- and lower-grade students and educators, truancy, and discipline referrals, among others. Pennington in her classes with the BRIGHT fellows showed how the A3 and root-cause analysis can properly define the problem and, medically speaking, move past managing symptoms to truly treat the underlying ailment.

David Maile, a longtime plant farm owner who transitioned out of the business two years ago, signed onto the BRIGHT program and found himself as an administrator at Highview 6th Grade Center in the Cincinnati suburb of Middletown, where the poverty rate has jumped from 9 percent to nearly 14 percent in about 15 years. Maile leveraged root-cause analysis and A3 problem-solving to improve math scores in the school, where he said much of the challenge was in bringing a level of consistency and precision to data collection.

Other process-improvement projects were of a more qualitative nature. Jeff Greenley, a lawyer by training, worked in the Switzerland of Ohio School District in Appalachian Ohio, the highest-poverty region in the Buckeye State. Greenley’s school housed a wide age range of students that rarely interacted, in large part because they didn’t see the value in it. Greenley did.

After defining the problem via an A3 and enacting countermeasures, Greenley finished the school year with more than four in five upper-grade students helping out and interacting with elementary-age students. The A3 process, he said, was eye-opening.

“There are not a lot of tools at our disposal in education to think about operational problems,” he said. “This is a hammer we can use to hit the nail.”

Regardless of the challenge, the BRIGHT fellows discovered very quickly that data was a crucial asset in their problem-solving journey – even if it wasn’t used as such in their schools. Astrid Arca, an economist for the state of Ohio, served in the same Appalachian school district as Greenley and took on the challenge of improving reading and math schools in a student population with a high percentage on so-called individual education plans. The data needed to cut to the heart of the problem, Arca found, existed – but weren’t being analyzed to inform instructional practices.

“There was almost a fear of the data,” she said, “and most of my job was removing those barriers.”

BRIGHT leaders are hoping that spirit has a transformative effect in the schools where its graduates are heading this fall and beyond, even if the difference in background for many fellows hasn’t gone unnoticed. Deborah Copeland, a BRIGHT principal coach with a nearly 30-year background as an elementary school principal, acknowledged a level of skepticism around “outside” people taking a leadership role in education. Often, she said, it just takes spending time alongside the fellows to see that they have the skills and capability to drive change.

“It’s been a joy watching these fellows coming in with a different perspective, full of hope and promise and not weighted down by the barriers that those of us who’ve been in the trenches often get blinded by,” Copeland said.

The BRIGHT fellows themselves are the source of a telling data point: About 90 percent had K-12 principal or assistant principal jobs locked in at the start of the school year.

Fisher students in 1st wave of new professional certification

A group of undergraduate operations students at the Fisher College Business bear the distinction of being the first in the world to earn a new professional certification seen as a stepping stone another key resume-booster.

A total of 15 Fisher students recently passed a version of a new exam through the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) to earn the “Global Supply Chain Associate” (GSCA) designation. This brand-new designation is the culmination of a year’s work among faculty at several universities nationwide, including Andrea Prud’homme, a clinical faculty member at Fisher who also serves as an associate director for the Center for Operational Excellence. The Fisher students took part in a test launch of the program, which is set to roll out internationally this fall .

Prud’homme said a key motivation in creating the GSCA designation was the fact that undergraduates often don’t have the time or money to pursue the well-known Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation.

“This gets them started should they wish to pursue CPIM certification,” Prud’homme said. “Additionally, many of the companies that hire our undergraduates provide incentives and support for new hires to become CPIM-certified.”

Lean IT, innovation, women’s leadership sessions on COE summer slate

Following a record-breaking Leading Through Excellence summit in April, the Center for Operational Excellence is gearing up for a busy slate of summer events.

Spotlight on MassMutual at IT Leadership Network forum

Dalton Li
Dalton Li

After a visit from Menlo Innovations CEO and Joy Inc. author Rich Sheridan May 13, COE’s popular IT Leadership Network forum series returns June 3 with a presentation from Dalton Li, a vice president who leads the continuous improvement practice for $29 billion-a-year MassMutual Financial Group.

In this session, which kicks off with a networking breakfast, Li will provide an inside look at MassMutual’s approach to lean deployment, its coaching strategy, and its support system for sustaining gains. Li began his career as a nuclear submarine officer based in Annapolis and later served as an assistant professor for the U.S. Navy before working at consultancy McKinsey & Co. for six years. He joined MassMutual in his current role in 2012.

Formal invites for this session are set to go out early the week of May 2.

Innovation Summer series

B. Carpenter, A. Schlegel
B. Carpenter, A. Schlegel

Just a few weeks later, COE kicks off a three-part “Innovation Summer” series led by Associate Director Aravind Chandrasekaran. This series, set for June 16, July 14 and Aug. 18, tackles questions including: How can companies leverage lean/Six Sigma practices to build more agility for innovation teams inside their organization? How can they carry those across the supply chain? And how can these best practices cultivate an idea from its earliest stages?

Across this trio of sessions, you’ll hear from innovation icon 3M, Buckeye/NFL greats and business owners Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel (pictured, left), and more.

Registration for the first of the three sessions will open the week of May 9.

‘Build Your Brand’ workshop

Krista Neher

COE’s semi-annual Women’s Leadership Forum series returns June 24 for a workshop with Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital. This “Launch Yourself” session will help attendees define, design and deliver a powerful personal brand online.

Registration for this limited-capacity session will open the week of May 16.

Check out COE’s events page for save-the-dates on additional events into the fall and through 2017.

Management Sciences Prof. Benton receives ‘Best Paper’ award

Furthering Fisher College of Business’ reputation as a top operations research powerhouse, a Management Sciences professor recently received honors from a major engineering journal.

W.C. Benton Jr.
W.C. Benton Jr.

IIE Transactions, the flagship journal of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, honored Fisher Prof. W.C. Benton Jr. with the ‘Best Paper’ award. He’ll be formally acknowledged at the publication’s research conference in May.

Benton’s award came for his “Determining Core Acquisition Quantities When Products Have Long Return Lags.” This research tackles a common problem for closed-loop supply chains: Having a sufficient supply of reusable products, a tricky balancing act between accidental shortages or inventory overloads. Benton in his research culled live data from original equipment manufacturers and remanufacturers to develop a new forecasting approach that better balances product returns with demand volume.

At Fisher, Benton is the Edwin D. Dodd Professor of Management and a professor of operations and supply chain management. He’s a prolific researcher whose more than 120 articles have appeared have appeared in publications including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Operations Management, and many others. He has consulted for a wide variety of public- and private-sector entities throughout North America.

Research spotlight: The hidden price tag of supplier reliability

nate craig
N. Craig

by special contributor Nathan Craig, asst. prof. management sciences, Fisher College of Business

The retail shopping experience today is one of incredible convenience for customers and extraordinary complexity behind the scenes.

Customers have grown accustomed to the seemingly sleight-of-hand ease with which many retailers stock shelves and fill online orders, while their supply chains are under increasing pressure to keep up. For suppliers and retailers alike, a blip that keeps a shelf empty or stalls a shipping date is an invitation for competitors to creep in—or for customers to take aim on social media.

Retail, in short, has never been better positioned to deliver the multi-channel experience customers crave. But the stakes have never been higher. One slip in the journey from factory floor to customers’ hands costs time, money and brand loyalty.

Major supply chain disruptions—natural disasters and strikes, to name a few—might catch headlines, but they’re rarely the culprit behind empty shelves. The kinds of problems that wreak the most havoc, we’ve found, might surprise you.

Correctable and costly

warehouse
Courtesy Argentus.com

Our research, published in the Journal of Operations Management, comes after years of examining how retailers can better leverage their vast supplier networks to improve the end consumer experience. These opportunities are exciting and lucrative. An earlier collaboration that examined supplier management practices at Hugo Boss found that increased supplier reliability can increase both demand for a brand and the supplier’s profit, even in the face of expense-adding measures that strengthen the supply chain.

Modern retail techniques such as online ordering, in-store pick-up, and pack-by-store distribution pay dividends in a fast-paced industry with razor-thin margins. But executing these practices is challenging, creating chances for suppliers to miss the mark. Even if the retailer properly forecasts demand, products can get stuck in supply chains.

We spent months scouring data on supplier errors at a major distribution center (DC) for a 700-store retailer—for anonymity’s sake, we’ll call this big-box chain Omega. Examining a full year of Omega’s orders from its suppliers, we found about 7 percent of all orders suppliers delivered deviated from Omega’s specifications. Less than half of these, however, were “classical” errors such as late delivery and short quantities. The majority of the errors involved the complex labeling, packaging, and information exchange requirements that support modern retail supply chains.

These errors are correctable, but doing so costs time and money. If a supplier doesn’t properly document an inbound shipment, it can’t run through the retailer’s automated receiving system. Instead, the retailer’s employees must manually inspect and identify the shipment. Products with incorrect price tags, packaging, or display elements (like hangers) must be adjusted by the retailer’s employees before hitting the selling floor.

Research in the retail arena has paid little attention to these correctable errors, which we’ve found are more frequent than others and come with substantial costs. Rework time and labor hours for correctable errors alone, we calculated, could cost around 5 percent of the Omega DC’s annual operating budget. That’s close to $25 per product per year on average across hundreds of thousands of items. Extrapolating from Omega to the retail industry suggests that these errors cost retail supply chains billions of dollars annually.

Chargeback, move forward

If retailers have had difficulty determining the financial impact of these frequent, correctable errors, they’ve had even more when it comes to properly recouping costs from errant suppliers.

Retailers’ chief weapon in reducing the immediate cost of supplier errors is the so-called chargeback, which docks supplier revenue after errors and can shave up to 10 percent off the supplier’s top line. Our research found the Omega DC’s supplier chargebacks often under- or overestimated the cost of rework, even when doling out millions of dollars in penalties per year.

Hitting the mark on chargebacks not only could stabilize retailer revenue but avoid the contract disputes endemic in these arrangements. To help retailers get there, we’ve analyzed the kinds of products most harmed by fulfillment errors and found a way forward for retailers working to balance fluctuations in supplier performance with their own inventory holding policies.

Margin matters

The answer for each product is far from clear-cut and entails a number of factors, all of which have a complex interplay. How much does it cost to hold the product? How tight is the margin? How damaging to the retailer is it to have pent-up, unsatisfied demand?

Understanding how all these factors interact lets the retailer maximize its improvement efforts and helps prevent knee-jerk reactions to improving supplier performance. Depending on the product and supplier, a retailer might benefit more from simply padding inventory than burning time and money on boosting reliability.

With a global network of hundreds of thousands of suppliers making the modern retail machine run, it pays dividends for retailers to be efficient and effective as they keep apace with customer demand. Especially when one wrong bar code can do so much damage.