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.

Summit kickoff keynote to talk ‘Clarity First’

With registration for the Center for Operational Excellence’s sixth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit just weeks from opening, another of its featured keynote speakers is being revealed.

Karen Martin, president of The Karen Martin Group and author of The Outstanding Organization, will open the second day of the summit on Wednesday, April 11. Martin, a renowned expert on process excellence and sought-after speaker, will be sharing insights from her forthcoming book, Clarity First. The day before her keynote, Martin will be hosting a half-day workshop that takes a deeper dive into the Clarity First concepts.

In Clarity First, Martin contends that a lack of clarity costs companies, educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits billions of dollars a year. Beyond the red ink, this lack of clarity also inserts unnecessary risk, drains organizations of energy, and causes customers to question whether the organization can deliver value. Drawing from the book, set to be released in January, Martin will show how organizations can use clarity to unleash potential, innovate at higher levels, and solve problems more effectively.

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Summit keynote Charles Duhigg speaking during his keynote at COE’s inaugural summit in 2013.

On COE’s summit keynote roster, Martin joins Charles Duhigg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better. Member registration for the April 10-12 event opens Dec. 11, while non-member registration opens Jan. 1, 2018.

Martin has a rich history in quality and process, having started her career as a scientist and, later, director of quality improvement for an organization that managed healthcare for 22 million people. She also served as director of the Institute for Quality and Productivity at San Diego State University, where she oversaw the university’s sell-out Lean Enterprise and Quality Business Practices programs.

As a consultant, Martin is known for her keen diagnostic skills and rapid-results approach. A skilled change agent, she builds energy within work teams by helping them focus an organization’s key performance goals—faster delivery of higher quality products and services at lower cost—while simultaneously building organization-wide problem-solving capabilities and boosting employee engagement.

Martin’s 2012 book, The Outstanding Organization, won the Shingo Research Award and Professional Publication Award. She’s also the co-author of Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation, The Kaizen Event Planner: Achieving Rapid Improvement in Office, Service and Technical Environments and Metrics-Based Process Mapping: An Excel-Based Solution.

Additional keynote announcements for the 2018 summit will be made on Dec. 8 and into early 2018.

Visit the website now to get a look at our first wave of breakout session host postings and review pricing and group discount information. Workshop and tour information will be posted Monday, Dec. 4.

Leadership principles in Huntington transformation focus of December keynote

“How much will this save?”

“When will this get done?”

Jeff Sturm knows leaders need the answers these questions get. He also knows there’s a better way to ask.

“’When will this get done’ is a legitimate question,” said Sturm, Huntington’s Chief Continuous Improvement Officer, “but if you ask it over and over – and at the wrong time – you’re going to drive the wrong behavior.”

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Jeff Sturm

Changing leadership behaviors – starting with how they ask questions of their people – is a key component of a wide-ranging operational excellence transformation rounding out its fourth year at the Columbus-based bank, a stalwart among Midwestern financial institutions with more than $100 billion in assets. Sturm stepped in to lead the bank’s formal effort to build a culture of continuous improvement as it launched in 2014, and he’s appearing as a keynote on Dec. 8 for a seminar hosted by The Ohio State Center for Operational Excellence, where the bank has been a member since 2011. Registration for the event, open exclusively to employees of COE member companies, is open now.

Looking back at the early days of the initiative, Sturm said part of the foundational work was in communicating what the culture change wouldn’t be.

“Most people’s perception of continuous improvement was two things: this very rigorous Six Sigma orientation, and that everything was about expense reduction,” Sturm said. “Really, we wanted to help better equip our employees to have more formality around their problem solving to help in the day-to-day.”

The road map driving Huntington’s continuous improvement efforts is a three-pronged strategy that aligns employees on establishing cultural behaviors, creating capable colleagues and delivering results. That’s operationalized, Sturm said, as “making great, customer-centric, process-focused, data-driven decisions.”

Four years in, Sturm said a key focus is sustaining momentum. Huntington closed a $3.4 billion merger deal with Akron’s FirstMerit Corp. last year, and CEO Steve Steinour told Crain’s Cleveland Business this fall that Huntington is “investing in growing.”

A sustained continuous improvement capability, Sturm said, is critical to what the bank has achieved – and what’s in store.

“Our team has really focused on making sure we’re helping creating a culture where our people are able to identify and take advantage of opportunities because of that growth,” Sturm said.

Learn more about Huntington’s operational excellence journey on Friday, Dec. 8, when Sturm’s 10:30 a.m. keynote will be followed by a presentation on keys to visionary leadership from Tim Judge, the executive director of the Leadership Initiative at Fisher College of Business and a top-ranked researcher in the field.

COE accepting breakout session proposals for 2018 summit

Have a story of transformational change at your organization you’d like to share? Have research-based insights that can help business professionals develop their leadership or problem-solving skills?

The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is accepting proposals for breakout sessions at its 2018 Leading Through Excellence summit, set for April 10-12 at the Fawcett Center on Ohio State’s campus. For attendees, the 25 breakout sessions to be offered at the event – spread across April 11 and 12 in five 60- and 75-minute blocks of five concurrent sessions – allow them to customize their summit experience to choose the topics that fit their interests and best align with their personal and organizational goals. For presenters, the sessions offer the chance to share best practices and make connections with hundreds of business leaders.

As with past summits, COE is building its breakout session offerings to represent a mix of “case studies” taking place inside member and non-member companies; actionable insights from researchers; and best practices from thought leaders in the world of operational excellence. Topics are to be broadly focused on one or more of the following subject matter areas:

  • Industry disruption (technology, trends)
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Lean deployment best practices (tools, techniques, behaviors)
  • Organizational behavior (team-building, communication, decision making)
  • Supply chain management

While COE will still be recruiting a number of breakout presenters outside this process, between five and 10 sessions will be drawn from submitted proposals. All session presenters receive complimentary admission to the summit.

Think you’re ready to submit a proposal for a breakout session on April 11 or 12? Have the following information ready about yourself and your presentation:

  • a) Contact information
  • b) Proposed title
  • c) Key challenge/trend the presentation addresses
  • d) A few sentences on the content you plan to cover;
  • e) Key “takeaways” attendees will receive at your session.
  • We’re also interested in past presentation experience, with video links welcome and encouraged.

Presentation proposals will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis, and all those who submit proposals will be notified of their status by Jan. 15, 2018, at the latest.

To view the proposal form and begin the submission process, click here.

Goodyear’s Billy Taylor: ‘Engaged, empowered people are your greatest asset’

Billy Taylor wrapped up a three-year stint running Goodyear’s manufacturing plant in Lawton, Oklahoma, with more than a few reasons to be proud.

Under his leadership, safety improved, processes streamlined, and projects racked up millions of dollars in savings. The turnaround job was enough to win the coveted Shingo Prize Silver Medallion for Operational Excellence, what’s been dubbed the “Nobel Prize for operations.”

It was, Taylor thought, his ticket to world headquarters.

The powers that be had other things in mind, dispatching him from one challenge to his next: A plant in Fayetteville, N.C., where demand for tires was outstripping the production pace by nearly 20 percent. In Taylor’s first two weeks walking the floor as plant director, he made it his mission to “seek to understand before I sought to change.”

The diagnosis: “I had great people but they didn’t understand what winning was,” Taylor said.

‘Most leaders struggle with letting go’

The story of the successful Fayetteville turnaround was just the next step in a journey that eventually led Taylor to where he is today, overseeing all North America manufacturing for the iconic, $15 billion-a-year brand and Center for Operational Excellence member. Taylor shared insights from his decades driving transformational change during his keynote address at COE’s 25th anniversary celebration in September, where nearly 200 industry leaders gathered to ring in the center’s quarter-century milestone.

Taylor’s insights on leadership are rooted in a passion for engaging people, a core element of transformational change that’s become the centerpiece of his frequent speaking engagements.

“Great leaders respect their people,” he said. “If you make people visible, they will make you valuable.”

Reflecting on the Oklahoma and North Carolina plant turnarounds, Taylor said the crucial next step after defining winning was in giving his front-line employees a sense of ownership in executing on the plant’s broader strategy. Though essential, it’s not always easy for managers, he said.

“Most leaders struggle with letting go,” Taylor said. “People are not your greatest asset. Engaged, empowered people who own your strategy are your greatest asset.”

By putting that into action, Taylor said, he ultimately oversaw a transformation in Fayetteville that resulted in a 14 percent bump in tire production with a 4 percent drop in hours worked – “no investment, no additional equipment, just ownership.”

Sustaining this culture of continuous improvement, Taylor said, means building a regular cadence around recognizing people as they execute on strategy and “celebrating the process” that’s driving gains. And it’s something he says he still does as one of the highest-ranking leaders in the company.

“Now that I run North America, it’s still simple. I still show up to celebrate the process, and I never miss the opportunity to share best practices.”

Billy Taylor was a featured keynote at COE’s fall seminar along with LeanCor Supply Chain Group CEO Robert Martichenko, who stressed the importance of connecting different parts of the business to create a lean culture.

A 15-minute recap and full-length recording for each session are available in the Digital Content Archive on COE’s members-only website (authenticated account required for access).

LeanCor CEO: Collaborative ‘ecosystem’ perspective critical to business success today

When Robert Martichenko isn’t running his company, LeanCor Supply Chain Group, he’s probably thinking about lean. And when he’s thinking about lean, he’s probably writing about it, too.

While his passion for storytelling might be a source of productivity and relaxation, Martichenko also says it’s a key leadership capability that’s too often overlook or underdeveloped.

“As leaders, we have to work harder to tell stories,” he told a crowd of nearly 200 at the Center for Operational Excellence’s 25th anniversary celebration. “Anybody can put 10 bullet points on a slide and build 50 slides. What’s the story? Why are we doing this? What’s important? We have to become closer to the narrative.”

‘We are a business, we are a system’

Martichenko kicked off COE’s fall seminar and quarter-century celebration with a compelling narrative of his own: Where he sees the future of lean thinking and lean management in a business world changing by the minute – and leaving some destruction in its wake.

“Fundamentally, we’re going to have to do something differently,” Martichenko said. “At this point, what’s happening on the outside is happening faster than what’s happening on the inside.”

Martichenko’s insights for how companies can leverage lean concepts to survive and thrive in a disruption-rich world are rooted in his personal journey as a business leader. He began his career in the transportation and warehouse industries, where he identified a need to integrate lean principles and techniques across the entire value stream. He founded LeanCor 12 years ago to meet that need and has grown the business into a leader in advancing the world’s supply chains. Just two years ago, Martichenko was honored with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ Distinguished Service Award, the industry’s highest honor.

A supply chain-based “ecosystem” perspective is what Martichenko sees as a foundation for survival and growth today.

“The next frontier … is not about technology, or about apps – this is about core processes and functions and saying, ‘We are a business, we are a system, and as a system we need to manage it together,’” he said. “Do you really want to fail instead of getting three executives together and saying, ‘Can you please start collaborating?’”

What’s preventing leaders from the four core business processes — strategy, product life-cycle management, sales and marketing, supply chain operations — from doing this? Martichenko says it’s often a bias around our area of the business that skews our perspective and limits our ability to make the best decisions for the broader ecosystem.

“If you’re willing to step outside your safety zone, it will be amazing what you see,” he said.

Creating a culture with greater visibility and better alignment, Martichenko said, ultimately will generate the kinds of feedback systems that can enable the agility and flexibility businesses need today.

“All the technology we need for the supply chain to go from the supplier to the end customer is there,” he said. “What we don’t have is an equal amount of momentum from what actually happened back to the people in the business.”

Robert Martichenko was a featured keynote at COE’s fall seminar along with Goodyear executive Billy Taylor, who stressed the importance of people-inclusion processes in transformational change.  

A 15-minute recap and full-length recording for each session are available in the Digital Content Archive on COE’s members-only website (authenticated member account required).

COE, Lean Enterprise Institute hosting workshops in Columbus Oct. 24-26

The Center for Operational Excellence is teaming up this October with a leading voice in lean thinking for a three-day round of workshops hosted in Columbus and offered at a discount to center members.

A dozen workshops scheduled from Oct. 24 to 26 at the Fawcett Center are now open for registration through the Lean Enterprise Institute, the Cambridge, Mass.-based education, publishing, research and conference organization. Workshops — a mix of one- and two-day sessions — range from deep dives into creating a lean culture and strategy deployment to best practices in gemba walks and Training Within Industry.

While all 12 workshops — a mix of one- and two-day sessions — are open to COE members and guests, two leaders from the center are hosting three of the sessions, one on each day. They are:

Oct. 24 – Lean Office: Making the Invisible Visible

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Rick Guba

How can we make the most of lean principles in a non-manufacturing, office environment? COE Associate Director Rick Guba and partner MoreSteam.com guide attendees through a virtual office workflow simulation that offers tools and insights on bringing visibility to largely “invisible” office processes. Key tools include value-stream mapping and metrics, error-proofing and standardized work. The session is recommended for process improvement leaders in service/office environments.

Oct. 25 – Root Cause Analysis

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Peg Pennington

Learn to hunt down the underlying causes of systemic problems in your organization — not just symptoms — in this workshop, run by COE Executive Director Peg Pennington. Participants will learn the basics of root cause analysis and engage in hands-on activities, mapping out incidents based on personal experiences and high-profile real-life events. Critically, this session connects all learnings to the next step in the process: Developing countermeasures to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.

Oct. 26 – From Data to Decision: Analyzing Value Stream Metrics

Moving from the value-stream map to the implementation of countermeasures requires data, but problem solvers often find themselves asking two key questions: When do I need data, and how much of it do I need? Attendees in this workshop, led by Pennington, assume the role of consultants in turning around a fictional pizza shop. Digging into data from “Pete’s Pizza,” participants analyze and interpret data on the production and delivery process on lead time, quality and cost. Ultimately, participants develop a set of recommendations for the client based on the analysis. Beyond sharpening problem-solving skills, this session leverages Excel-based activities such as pivot tables, graphs and descriptive statistics.

Each of the full-day sessions offered across the three-day span, including the three above, costs $800 and includes materials, breakfast, lunch and snacks. Two-day sessions cost $1,600. By selecting more than one full-day workshop or a two-day workshop, you are automatically entitled to a discount of $100 per day (maximum $300). If you are only attending a single one-day workshop, you may use discount code “OSUCOE” to unlock a $100 discount for that session.

If you and your team are interested in any of the sessions being offered in October, sign up soon as space is limited.

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?”

Global sourcing projects offer chance to connect with Fisher students

One of the best ways to unlock the value of your company’s membership in the Center for Operational Excellence is engaging with students at Fisher College of Business.

Prof. John Gray

Once again, COE is offering member companies the opportunity to partner with groups of students on projects designed to give them real-world experience – and give you real value at no cost. COE Associate Director John Gray is seeking interested companies to host a group project for his second-year MBA and junior/senior undergraduate “Strategic Global Sourcing” classes for autumn semester 2017.

To indicate your company’s interest, just fill out a quick survey by Tuesday, Aug. 8. If your project is selected, you’ll work with Prof. Gray in August to create a more detailed project scope, which will be presented to students at the start of the academic year.

In these projects, students take what they’re learning in class – make-vs.-buy decisions, location decisions, supplier management, and more – and apply it to a real-world problem-solving need at your company. By opening up your doors, providing data and committing to roughly one call per week, your company receives up to three hours of work per week per MBA student along with a written deliverable, which can include analyses conducted through the project.

Check out the “Student Engagement” section of COE’s website for more specifics on recommended project scope and more.

Many COE member companies take advantage of project opportunities as a way to network with students and build relationships that ultimately could open doors to internships and/or job opportunities. Projects also offer the chance for concrete ROI – the “I” being solely your company’s time and commitment.

Looking to engage more with the global sourcing community? Join Prof. Gray’s LinkedIn group. If you have questions or would like more details, contact him at gray.402@osu.edu.

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.

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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.