CEO offering insights on op-ex push at Lancaster Colony in Feb. 9 keynote

You might not know the name Lancaster Colony, but you almost certainly have one of its products in your refrigerator or freezer right now.

Lancaster Colony is the company that owns and makes the market-dominating Marzetti salad dressing and dip brand along with other products such as Sister Schubert’s homemade rolls and New York Brand Bakery Texas toast. It’s a $1.2 billion-a-year company based in Columbus, part of the Center for Operational Excellence since 1998 – and starting a brand new chapter in its corporate story.

Lancaster Colony Corp. President and CEO David Ciesinski

David Ciesinski, who joined the company as COO in 2016 and took over as CEO last year, will be highlighting that new chapter in a keynote address he’s delivering to close out COE’s first members-only session of the year: A Feb. 9 networking and learning event at the Blackwell on the campus of Fisher College of Business.

New to Lancaster Colony, Ciesinski is a seasoned veteran of the packaged food industry who’s served in leadership roles at well-known brands such as H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

In his new role with Lancaster Colony, he’s said he’s making continuous improvement a central focus of the company’s forward momentum, leveraging a multimillion-dollar project portfolio and growing team of Black Belts to cut expenses in products’ journey to the shelf and eliminate waste along the way. More importantly, Ciesinski said he’s working to create a culture in which employees are driven by purpose and data-centric decision making.

That sense of purpose and data-rooted decision making will both prove critical in the years ahead for Lancaster Colony, which is dealing with unprecedented change in consumer preferences that are shaking up the restaurant industry (the company supplies a number of top chains in addition to brand-licensing deals on their own products) and grocery aisles (the company’s biggest customer is Wal-Mart). Lancaster Colony itself, though, is no stranger to change. The company was formed in 1961 when several glass and housewares makers merged and went public in 1969, when it bought T. Marzetti Co.

In the subsequent decades, the company grew as a conglomerate, selling a wide range of products. As recently as 2003, its glassware, candle and automotive businesses made up more than 40% of its sales. Since then, the company has made a concerted move to sharpen its focus on its food brands, becoming exclusively so by 2014.

In his presentation, Ciesinski will offer a candid look at his lessons learned in this new era for a company with a more than half-century legacy.

This session is available for in-person attendance and via livestream for members. Registration is available here.

Lancaster Colony chief headlining COE’s Feb. 9 networking, learning event

For its first event of the new year, The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is featuring the chief executive of one of Columbus’ iconic consumer brands.

Serving as the 1 p.m. keynote at COE’s Feb. 9 learning and networking session is David Ciesinski (pictured, right), CEO of Columbus-based Lancaster Colony Corp., which owns and produces the Marzetti food brand and many others. Ciesinski, who joined Lancaster Colony as president and COO in 2016, stepped into the top role this past May.

Ciesinski has spent years in the competitive packaged foods industry, including leadership stints at H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and received his master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

In his keynote, Ciesinski will share insights from his decades in leadership roles and offer a look inside a staple of the region’s business landscape that’s growing sales and margins in a transformative time for the industry.

The afternoon keynote will cap a day that begins at 10:30 a.m., when attendees can choose to attend one of three interactive learning sessions run by COE Executive Director Peg Pennington; researcher and sourcing expert John Gray; and Ralph Greco, director of the Nationwide Center for Advanced Customer Insights. After the 90-minute learning sessions, all attendees will converge for a noon networking lunch before Ciesinski’s keynote.

Registration for this members-only event opens Tuesday, Jan. 9.

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!

Huntington, Fisher leadership keynotes available in full-length, “ShortCut” streaming formats

How can we drive the results we get as leaders by changing the questions we ask?

What does it mean to be a leader of vision, of purpose?

The Center for Operational Excellence explored these critical leadership questions in its final event of year on Dec. 8, featuring keynotes from a top leader at Columbus’s Huntington National Bank and a renowned management researcher who recently joined the faculty at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.

Fisher professor and management expert Tim Judge closed out COE’s final event of the year

Both keynote addresses from Jeff Sturm, Huntington’s executive vice president and chief continuous improvement officer, and Tim Judge, Joseph A. Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness, are now available in the Digital Content Archive of COE’s members-only website in their full versions, along with their presentation decks and a 15-minute video cut. The latter version – dubbed “ShortCuts” – is part of a new member benefit being rolled out throughout 2018, in which notable COE presentations will be available in a shorter format, suitable for breaks or team “lunch and learn” discussions.

Other available ShortCuts include September presentations from LeanCor CEO Robert Martichenko and Goodyear executive Billy Taylor, with at least two more coming in January.

Access all of these versions in COE’s Digital Content Archive by entering your unique, validated member username and password (Don’t have one yet? Get that here). The Digital Content Archive, which includes more than 100 past presentations, is just one part of the broader Members Only site, which also offers:

  • Exclusive access to session livestreams;
  • PDF presentations from COE’s annual Leading Through Excellence summit; and
  • A newly debuted MBA student resume book offering.

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.

duhigg, charles
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.”

jeff sturm
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).