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.

Below the equator, a classic process problem

The next time you think your organization’s process problems are so singular they couldn’t be happening anywhere else, ask Joe Langlitz and his colleagues how they spent the first month of their summer this year.

botswana students
From left: Bi, Langlitz, Goetter

Langlitz and fellow Fisher College of Business MBA students James Goetter and Wenzhao Bi closed out their first year in the program with an 8,000-mile trip below the equator to Gaborone, Botswana. They were one of eight groups of students sent overseas through Fisher’s Global Applied Projects (GAP) program to work up-close with a corporation to solve a business challenge. Sponsoring the students’ gap team was the Botswana arm of British banking giant Barclays, where Fisher alumnus Jeff Davis serves as Chief Risk Officer.

Looking back at the work Langlitz and his team completed, Davis says they’ve helped lay the groundwork for some major improvements in Barclays’ business loan approval process. Getting there, however, entailed a frenzied three-week mission to hunt down process waste that put to work what each team member brought from the classroom and enlisted the help of a few Center for Operational Excellence members, too.

‘I wanted a revolution’

Davis cut his teeth in the birthplace of lean manufacturing, working with automakers and suppliers as they applied lean/Six Sigma principles. Today he’s a top officer at Barclays Botswana, which employs 1,200 at its corporate office and 42 branches and ranks as the second-largest bank in the market.

“When I got into financial services later in life, I would see our processes through the lens of the learnings I had in the automotive industry and would get frustrated at our inability to do true lessons and root-cause analysis in our pursuit of simple, repeatable processes.”

A particular target of Davis’ frustration was the corporate loan approval process at Barclays Botswana, which could – and often did – take as few as two days but also could stretch past six months in some instances, putting average turnaround just shy of four months.

“I wanted a revolution,” Davis said. “I wanted 500 percent better.”

Project Firefly

Davis took his first steps toward a solution by connecting with the GAP program at his alma mater, eventually bringing the trio from Fisher to Gaborone and pairing them with two MBA students from the University of Botswana. The project team had zero formal corporate banking experience – and that’s exactly what Davis wanted.

“We wanted an injection of new ideas,” he said.

(From left) Langlitz, Bi and Goetter taking a break from the office at Botswana's Mokolidi Nature Reserve
(From left) Langlitz, Bi and Goetter taking a break from the office at Botswana’s Mokolidi Nature Reserve

Langlitz admits to a dose of culture shock upon arrival. Gaborone is the governmental and economic capital of a country with a fast-growing economy, but one that also still relies heavily upon mining and the cattle trade. It’s the latter – particularly their penchant for wandering onto busy roads in Gaborone – that struck the team in their early days.

“The first week we were there, it really sunk in: ‘We’re on the opposite side of the equator,’” he said.

The more time the team spent in country, however, the more familiar it became – and the more Langlitz and others saw how universal challenges such as those at Barclays are.

“They’re just like any institution,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out better ways to serve the customer.”

The GAP team and their University of Botswana colleagues took on what Barclays dubbed “Project Firefly,” an extensive effort to visualize the loan approval process flow in the form of a value stream map and, importantly, flag non-value-added elements therein. The long-term goal is to slash average loan-processing time a staggering 90 percent to only 10 days.

Mapping the process required interviewing numerous stakeholders across different offices and navigating at-times fraught situations.

“With the overall process so fragmented, teams tend to be myopic when dissecting which processes are adding to uncompetitive turnaround times,” Davis said. “We asked the team to hold a mirror up and tell our people what’s going on without placing blame, and they did a nice job of lowering defenses.”

Enlisting help

In addition to receiving regular coaching from COE Executive Director Peg Pennington, the Project Firefly team also sought insights on the challenge at hand from two member companies: Huntington National Bank and KeyCorp.

“A lot of the pain points they had,” Langlitz said, “were pain points Barclays has been dealing with.”

Jeremy Winstel, a senior manager of enterprise lean/Six Sigma for Key, said reducing customer hassle has been a regular focus for the bank in its process improvement efforts. His insights served as a key early benchmarking opportunity for the project team before and during their stint in Gaborone.

“Providing this knowledge transfer assistance has been a great way to get plugged in to Fisher and try to help out,” Winstel said. “That’s what the COE’s about, holistically.”

Kevin Plaugher, senior vice president and business banking credit manager at Huntington, also spent time walking the team through the credit approval process and imparting a key bit of wisdom:

“It’s like physics,” Plaugher said. “If you want to extend credit to the customer, there are certain things you have to do, and you can’t pretend steps in the process can be skipped or eliminated. Still, even with the most manual processes, there are tools to make it faster, simpler, and clearer.”

Langlitz said benchmarking with Huntington and Key “sent us down the right path” to ultimately making this key discovery: More than half of the time Barclays Botswana spent processing loans was non-value-added. This opened the door to substantial improvements.

Just the beginning

The Project Firefly team capped their nearly three-week stint with Barclays Botswana by reporting out their findings and recommendations to the bank’s executive leadership team and its Managing Director, the region’s top-ranking official. Langlitz said the team took particular pride in the fact that none of its recommendations came strictly from qualitative information.

“All our recommendations were data-driven,” Langlitz said. “These weren’t just because we heard someone say it was a good idea.”

The results and recommendations provided major clarity for Barclays going forward, even if Davis and his colleagues already knew process waste was a problem.

“We knew there was a lot of waste in the system, but we’d never been able to measure it,” he said. “They did a great job of taking a complicated set of data from a lot of locations and distilling it down to a very clear story to tell.”

Through the summer, Barclays Botswana began hiring additional associates and making its first strides in implementing some of the Project Firefly recommendations. Improvement efforts are set to ramp up through the fall, Davis said, for what is expected to be an ongoing process.

As for the students, Langlitz said he and his colleagues gained invaluable process improvement skills, through an unforgettable experience, no less.

“Being able to say I’ve been there, done business in a different culture, I’m a lot more comfortable now.”

For more behind-the-scenes details on Project Firefly, check out the blog the students maintained for the trip. For more details on the GAP Program, click here or play the video below:

COE congratulates MBA recipients of annual scholarships

Much of what we do at the Center for Operational Excellence involves outreach and professional development with industry, but we’re proud to support our fantastic students at Fisher College of Business as well.

From left: Rahul Parameswaran, Sreekanth Kolan, Aiswarya Ramamurthi, and Seth Johnson.
From left: Rahul Parameswaran, Sreekanth Kolan, Aiswarya Ramamurthi, and Seth Johnson. (click to enlarge)

This week, we honored four first-year MBA students headed into their second year at Fisher with scholarship funding from COE and an annual fund through the Management Sciences department. Awarded $750 each from COE were Sreekanth Kolan and Aiswarya Ramamurthi. Seth Johnson and Rahul Parameswaran each received $1,250 through the William L. Berry scholarship. This honor, endowed by the emeritus professor, is designated each year to students expected to have an impact in the operations world.

Kolan this summer is headed to an internship at Warsaw, Ind.-based medical device maker Zimmer, while Ramamurthi is Cleveland-bound for an internship in operational excellence and process improvement at PolyOne Corp. Johnson has internships lined up in Columbus this summer in data analytics at Gear Digital, and in operations at Ohio Power Tool.

Congrats to all scholarship recipients!

This article appears in the April 2014 edition of COE’s Current State e-newsletter. Have a colleague who should be receiving this e-newsletter? Contact Matt at burns.701@osu.edu.

COE seeking student volunteers for April 9-11 summit

Looking for a great volunteer opportunity that gives you face-time with leaders from a wide range of industries?

See how much fun they're having?!
See how much fun they’re having?!

The Center for Operational Excellence’s second-annual three-day Leading Through Excellence summit will bring together Fisher College of Business faculty, dynamic leaders, and process improvement experts with acute insights into today’s business challenges. We expect this event to draw more than 250 mid-level and higher-ranking operations professionals – and we’re seeking Fisher undergraduate and graduate students to volunteer.

You can help out by:

  • Staffing the check-in / registration desk
  • Riding along during Wednesday, April 9, plant tours
  • Introducing professors / visiting professionals during breakout sessions
  • Assisting with audiovisual needs during presentations
  • Helping attendees as a greeter / way-finder
  • …among many other opportunities.

Some important details on this opportunity: The summit takes place at the Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road. COE is running shuttles between Gerlach Hall and Fawcett every 30 minutes during the summit for the 5-minute trip. Volunteer shifts begin at 7:30 a.m. each day and are available until 7 p.m. Weds./Thurs. and 3 p.m. Fri., and you can select one or multiple 2-hour slots.

If you’re interested, please contact Sreekanth Kolan at kolan.1@osu.edu. All you have to do aside from staffing your volunteer slot is attend a one-hour volunteer info session on Wednesday, April 2, in 355 Gerlach, from noon to 1. Pizza will be served, naturally.

COE-sponsored panel gives Fisher grad students a deeper look at lean

The first- and second-year Fisher College of Business graduate students who attended last Friday’s third-annual Link Symposium didn’t have to wait long to hear sound advice from our panel on lean implementation.

From left: Georgia Keresty; Asst. Prof. Aravind Chandrasekaran, Fisher College of Business; Chris Dillinger, Cardinal Health; Bill Michael, Huntington Bank; Reshma Pathare, Nationwide Insurance.

Moderating the event was Georgia Keresty, vice president of science, technology, and quality at Johnson & Johnson’s Advanced Sterilization Products. A 30-year veteran of the health-care industry, Keresty made the case for an enterprise-wide approach to lean in the opening moments of her remarks, kicking off a wide-ranging discussion on how lean is driving lasting, transformational change at a wide range of organizations.

“For companies to be successful with lean, it has to be end-to-end,” she said, adding that a more myopic approach to implementation can mean a company is “missing out on huge opportunities.”

The ensuing pair of panel discussions reinforced Keresty’s comments with a look inside manufacturers Greif and Emerson Climate Technologies, health-care product distributor Cardinal Health, Huntington National Bank, and Nationwide Insurance. Fisher professors Peter Ward, Mike Tanner, and Aravind Chandrasekaran also were on hand to share their research-based insights at the symposium, which the Center for Operational Excellence sponsors each year. View a slide show of the event here.

Teaching the tools and behavior that bolster lean thinking and leadership isn’t anything new for Fisher, which has been teaching lean in its MBA program for 25 years running, Ward said. To put that in context, the landmark lean text The Machine That Changed the World hit bookshelves only 23 years ago.

Notable insights from the panels, which focused on lean in manufacturing and services, respectively:

Lean leadership can be a career game-changer. One of the panelists, Geoff Merchant, serves as the manager of global commercial excellence for Delaware-based Greif, a member of our Center for Operational Excellence. He’s also an alumnus of Fisher’s MBA program. “The lean skillset I developed at Fisher was key to me getting a position at Greif and doing well in the organization.”

Lean can’t survive on an island. Bill Michael, a continuous improvement consultant at Huntington, told students that the bank has come a long way from a more siloed approach to lean, a series of “little embedded random acts of continuous improvement. This needs to be one cultural force.”

Lean can help organizations build quality in. This strategy has helped Cardinal Health successfully manage a wide range of challenges in the heavily regulated health-care space. It has even helped panelist Chris Dillinger, a director of operational excellence, view regulations themselves differenty. “A regulatory requirement is a voice of the customer,” Dillinger said.

A lean culture has many ingredients. Five of those pinpointed by the services panel: Respect, trust, empowerment, end-to-end application, and teamwork.

“Lean is a systematic way of showing respect.” – Peter Ward, chair, Department of Management Sciences; co-director, COE

iPad rollout brings new operational efficiencies to Ohio State marching band

Ryan Barta hated to see dead trees wasted as much as anyone, but it was the waste of time and effort that got the wheels spinning.

Barta, during the media blitz surrounding the iPad initiative.

For years, Barta watched between 6,000 and 9,000 sheets of paper go out to the 225 members of the Ohio State University Marching Band in the form of 30- to 40-page drill and music packets for each show. If band leadership opted for a different version of a song, it was back to the printer for a new batch.

“I kept thinking about all that time spent waiting and passing out paper,” said Barta, a senior who plays trumpet and majors in operations management and aviation management. “The bottleneck was right there in that printer.”

For an organization with a more than century-long legacy of innovation, Barta knew there had to be a better way – and they found it in Apple’s ubiquitous iPad.

This spring, Barta and fellow band member Charlie King set out to make it happen, working with Ohio State and gaining buy-in from band leadership and higher-ups at the School of Music. Along the way, they also received advice from Aravind Chandrasekaran, an assistant professor of the Fisher College of Business’ Management Sciences department, and Andrea Prud’homme, an assistant clinical professor who also advises the Buckeye Operations Management Society. At BOMS, which our Center for Operational Excellence supports annually, Barta serves as CFO.

One of the apps used with the marching band iPads helps squad leaders digitally manage the drill book. (Source: Video screenshot)

Fast-forward to the onset of Buckeye football season and all staff and directors and the band’s 33 squad leaders in the band are equipped with iPads, thanks to a $25,000 grant Barta and King worked to secure from Ohio State’s Office of Sustainability. These 45 iPads are helping drive new efficiencies in everything from drill and music instruction to inventory checks.

The new initiative has made more than just band leadership take notice. Barta and King have been profiled by Fisher, an ABC Columbus news affiliate, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Barta said the ultimate goal is to get an iPad in the hands of every band member, which would virtually erase the $24,000 in printing costs the band shoulders each year. That’s roughly $100 per band member.

The paper- and cost-saving benefits are only part of the equation, though. The iPad is being deployed as a tool throughout the marching band using a mix of existing technology and a little DIY ingenuity. Designated apps are used for cloud storage, marching drill, and music. Each squad leader also has the leeway to use the video and image capture capabilities of the iPad to watch for individual errors and correct issues along the way.

“It’s instant feedback,” Barta said.

Improvements are taking place off the field as well. Inventory checks, once a tedious process, are much easier thanks to the roaming tablets. And instrument check-out has gone from an hours-long, paper-herding process to a much more efficient and paperless one.

There’s additional hope for improvement with schedule changes such as rehearsal arrival times, which often can be difficult to communicate flawlessly to hundreds of band members. Barta is hoping that will change by coordinating the use of Google Calendar.

The iPad initiative’s potential for other improvements in the future is enormous, but already, the innovation is proof that even the “Best Damn Band in the Land” can find ways to get better.

Fisher students explore paths to speedier outpatient wait time in year-long project

A group of undergraduate Fisher College of Business students has undertaken the most ambitious project yet for the college’s Buckeye Operations Management Society – and one not far from home.

Students recently presented results of a year-long project within the gastrointestinal oncology unit of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. The goal was to make improvements in an area that has long dogged health care as a customer service concern: Patient wait time.

BOMS student Wexner Medical Center project
From left to right: Nick Caminiti, Ruizhi Wang, Spencer Shewbridge, Tanner Congleton, Tyler Kukurza, Molly Vlahakis

Out of the 70 students in BOMS, which the Center for Operational Excellence supports annually, seven took on the effort. Pictured, from left to right, are Nick Caminiti, Ruizhi Wang, Spencer Shewbridge, Tanner Congleton, project lead Tyler Kururza, and Molly Vlahakis. Not pictured is Junyi Xiong.

As in many hospitals and health-care providers’ offices, patients at the James were spending too long in the system from arrival to departure. Students not only targeted a decrease in total wait time but an increase in time spent with health-care providers. To accomplish this, they spent months gathering data at the James, feeding this information into simulations of the process, helped along the way by Dave Schilling, a professor of management sciences at Fisher.

In a hospital, even a manufacturing line, the solution is a lot more complex than “Faster!” The BOMS students in the process calculated the takt, or cycle, time of a patient through the system and pinpointed its true capacity, even determining when capacity levels would require new hires. These measures and the simulation were used to devise an alternative in patient routing.

The result: Students were able to create a new path that could boost the level of patients seen by as much as 25 percent, while increasing the amount of time a patient spent with a doctor or nurse practitioner by up to an impressive 75 percent. These recommendations were passed on to the James.

BOMS adviser Andrea Prud’homme, an assistant clinical professor of management sciences and an associate director of the Center for Operational Excellence, said the project marks a milestone for the student organization. BOMS students previously have tackled projects at Royal Building Products, Avon, the MidOhio Foodbank, and others – but none of this scale and with this level of research.

“These students took on this project for no class credit or compensation and learned new simulation software, which has never been done before in a BOMS project,” Prud’homme said. “This is very impressive work and I’m extremely proud of them.”

COE’s ‘world café’ event going for round two

Last February, the Center for Operational Excellence teamed up with Fisher’s Operations and Logistics Management Association for its first-ever attempt at a “world café”-style event. For a few hours, we brought together COE members, Fisher students and faculty to tackle the topic of logistics in an actionable way – with a catch. The clock ticks during discussion sessions at each table, and when it runs out the groups scramble.

Last year’s World Cafe attracted dozens of industry leaders,

The first time out of the gate, the event was a huge success – and that’s why we’re hosting it again this year. Next Friday, Jan. 25, we’re hosting what we’re calling a Link Symposium, and while the name and the chief topic have changed, the format’s all the same. The spotlight this year will be turned on sales and operations planning.

Move around the tables, meet students and faculty and watch as our best and brightest at Fisher give report-outs on key takeaways from each subtopic. We’re also capping off the event with a networking period to give our attendees a chance to chat without the pressure of time.

Seats are still available – so join us by registering here.

 

 

MBOE recap: Graduation day

“Remember that you have the best knowledge, and you learned from the best.”

These words came from a student wrapping up her capstone project for Fisher’s industry MBOE program, which ended its third intense and exhilarating year Saturday. This group of doctors, nurses, plant managers and administrators learned and shared principles of lean and applied them at their workplace, changing the way that work is done.

And this weekend they made it, walking away with a degree that’s one-of-a-kind in the U.S. Many sacrifices were involved. Instead of taking their kids to the zoo or going out for dinner with spouses and family, they worked on their six-sigma modules. They gave more than 600 hours this year for their professional development, making a positive change at their workplaces. Their projects were aimed at making shop floors and hospital units safer and easier for employees to use, resulting in satisfied customers/patients and a positive bottom-line impact. That learning, guided by some of the best coaches in the country, spread to others that they, in turn, taught.

MBOE Graduation
Fisher’s industry MBOE cohort at commencement

Some snapshots of the final moments of the MBOE cohort:

The management team from the Evansville school system in Indiana raved about how they successfully made big and small changes. Speaking of the MBOE program, one leader suggested that companies should work “to get your whole team in the program and you will see the widespread improvements.” I have not seen such open-minded executives who are willing to change first before making changes to their organization.

Two students – Dale Scott, lean manager at GE Technology Infrastructure; and Michael Raisor, executive director of process improvement at the Evansville school system – spoke at the pre-commencement session in the evening, an emotional tribute to the camaraderie in the class and the support they received.  Helen Zak, president of the Healthcare Value Leaders Network, inspired students to make use of the knowledge and think about how they’ll use all the extra time now that school is over.

The students expressed their gratitude for the knowledge they acquired from the faculty and coaches by giving a gift and coffee mugs imprinted with one important takeaway: Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.

With this cohort finished, the next wave revs up early next year. We’ve already written about the first on-campus week for our new health-care cohort. Check out a podcast from earlier this year where I chat with Mark Graban of LeanBlog.org for more details.

New operational excellence program at Fisher makes big debut

Excitement is high this week at the Fisher College of Business as we launch the first cohort of our MBOE Healthcare Program. MBOE, by the way, stands for Master of Business Operational Excellence, a program we introduced three years ago with a group of students mostly from the manufacturing and service industries. In the last cohort, however, we noticed nearly half of the students were from the health-care sector – and what we did about it is this very program.

Dean Poon
Dean Poon speaking to the MBOE class

MBOE Healthcare is a one-year program focused on achieving operational excellence using lean and Six Sigma, combined with effective leadership skills and team engagement techniques. The program aims to develop each student – a manager, leader or other professional with a passion for operational excellence and change –  while improving the systems and processes in his or her organization. 

This MBOE program isn’t just in a classroom. Students will head to hospitals to visit the gembaand observe successful changes. They’ll also take part in online learning and a combination of on-site and distance coaching by industry experts. The students apply this knowledge to a strategic capstone project carefully selected with the active involvement of the student’s supervisor or sponsor. They also work closely with the original industry cohort in the four weeks they’re together on campus to learn from each other.

MBOE Students

Each of the eight weeks on campus involves four full days of intense learning from Wednesday to Saturday. Past students have called these weeks “exhausting and exhilarating” as experienced faculty members and guests teach using their own experiences working in organizations all over the country.

A student of class 2011, Susan Moffatt-Bruce, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer at the Ohio State University Medical Center, told me the program “has provided me the tools to implement change through shared understanding and team engagement.”

Stay tuned for a daily update on the first week of the MBOE program.