Q&A: Fisher prof in new book sees big supply chain challenges, opportunities on horizon

Today’s fast-paced business world is a constant balancing act of tackling short-term challenges and positioning our organizations for future ones. For those beyond the five, 10, even 20-year horizon, two provocative questions linger: What are they, and what, if anything, can we do about them now?

tom goldsby
T. Goldsby

Center for Operational Excellence Associate Director Tom Goldsby is the co-author of a newly released book that addresses both of those. Global Macrotrends and Their Impact on Supply Chain Management: Strategies for Gaining Competitive Advantage offers an extensive look into the changes organizations could be facing a generation from now, the seeds of which have already been sown. These so-called macrotrends include: Explosive population growth in countries these days perceived as underdeveloped; a rising middle class across the globe; accelerating climate change; and the alarming scarcity of precious natural resources.

These trends might sound like the makings of a globe-trotting disaster epic – albeit a very long, didactic one written by Thomas Friedman – but Goldsby recently spoke with COE about their implications and why companies shouldn’t view them exclusively as a “doomsday prophecy.”

COE: What inspired you and your co-authors to tackle this topic?

TG: The macrotrends we chose to focus on are maybe a little more in the distance, but we really wanted to encourage companies and managers to be on the lookout for things. We find that many people are very firefighting-oriented, focused on immediate-term crises that face them, and things that already have struck the business. It’s fine to be a good firefighter, but every now and then we need to rise above and see things that are coming. We think the benefit to being a first-mover on a lot of these macrotrends is that for every doomsday scenario there are strategies companies can employ to get ahead of it.

For companies not aware of their vulnerabilities, though, they’re going to be blindsided. If you don’t take opportunities presented to you now and simply think a looming problem is something your tier-four suppliers should be worried about, ultimately it’s going to hit your shores.

COE: One of the more intriguing aspects of your research is your assertion that a “global” company will look entirely different in the future. How so?

TG: We’ve been talking about globalization for several decades now, and really, the more appropriate term is “selective globalization.” If a company has good coverage in 15 to 20 countries, they call themselves global – but they often leave out Africa, the Middle East, Central America, most of Latin America and Asia. These areas are really rising in population and rising in wealth, and consumer goods companies, in particular, are starting to take notice and figure out how they can serve a place where a burgeoning middle class is a taking shape.

Meanwhile, in today’s “global” market, competition is incredibly intense and companies are duking out for fractions of a percent of market share when there’s still very much an open market in some of these burgeoning nations. Those companies and brands that can establish a foothold in these markets could enjoy the first-mover advantage for several years or even generations if they can embrace the local culture and adapt to the needs of themarket.

COE: For some of these countries, though, doesn’t this huge potential reward come with a huge risk?

TG: Absolutely, you have to look before you leap. Yes, some of these nations are marked by civil unrest, corruption reigns supreme in many – you have to understand the environment, and if you’re looking at some of the rising nations in Africa, for example, you might have to be a little more reserved.

On the other hand, in Peru, the economy has been growing at 6 to 10 percent per annum the past several years, with no recession. They’re a peaceful country wanting to be a global player as a source of supply and as a consumer market. A company that does business in Brazil and says “We’ve got South America covered” is overlooking a great opportunity. If you’re so-called “global” and don’t do business in Peru, Chile or Colombia, you have to ask why.

COE: How has technology changed the game for supply chain leaders?

TG: Supply chain managers are being held more accountable today than ever before. Before, when something bad happened the world just shrugged it off and said “Bad things happen to all of us.” Today, there’s research showing how dramatic an impact disruptions in the supply chain can have on a company’s stock price. Today, the world learns your bad news sooner, they react much more violently than ever before, and with blogs and lots of eyes and ears on the street, people are eager to share bad news. So, technology has increased the volume and speed of information flow that raises the stakes for supply chain leaders.

COE: How do you see your research aligning with operational excellence?

TG: Operational excellence allows a company to understand the value it creates in the market and the processes upon which it relies to deliver that value. These are two critical factors in leveraging opportunities and minimizing risks. Whereas many companies remain in that reactive, fire-fighting mode, companies employing OpEx to understand outcomes at their root cause. They are going to come up with remedies faster and take advantage of the conditions found in the environment, as opposed to being consumed by the challenges. OpEx also speaks to a high level of coordination across the supply chain that allows a company to lean on supply chain partners for insights and resources. These companies are going to be in a better position to be on offense rather than defense.

Risk, lean leadership share spotlight at September COE seminar

Steering an organization toward operational excellence comes with internal and external headwinds, and next month’s quarterly COE seminar is tackling two critical ones with the help of its featured presenters.

rubik babakanian
R. Babakanian

Kicking off COE’s Sept. 26 seminar at 10:30 a.m. is Rubik Babakanian, senior vice president and chief procurement officer at hard drive manufacturer Western Digital Corp. Babakanian’s company stands today as a $15 billion organization with its stock price on a steady upswing, but the road to be there hasn’t been without risk. Like many manufacturers with heavy operations in Asia, Western Digital suffered severe disruptions and temporary shutdowns during the devastating 2011 Japanese tsunami and Thai floods. The events in a nine-month period rocked the global supply chain and forced Western Digital to examine its risk mitigation and management practices with renewed vigor.

Babakanian, a 30-year industry veteran, will outline the methods and tools the company has put in place to better understand its supply chain, track ever-shifting risk factors, and be prepared for the next “100-year event.” Western Digital’s story highlights the universal business challenge of investing in risk mitigation, one that’s never complete – but truly pays off when crisis comes.

walt miller
W. Miller

At 1 p.m., COE welcomes to the stage Walt Miller, who serves as director of operational excellence at engine maker Cummins. Miller is in charge of driving and coaching a culture of empowerment and continuous learning at the company. He’ll share in this session his approach not only to coaching and developing leaders of the future, but in transforming longtime leaders deeply ingrained in a “command and control” culture.”

Miller, author of will share these principles through the lens of a Cummins case involving the turnaround of a plant that started out with a lagging on-time delivery rate costing millions of dollars in missed monthly sales and a rigid, top-down leadership model. It’s a story that shows a lean organization can be built and sustained anywhere with people, a process and a customer – and that behind every good leader is a great team and a great production and management system.  The challenge is how you build it and, most importantly, sustain it.

Babakanian and Miller are just part of a full-day event that includes a networking lunch and a special event at 2;30 p.m., after Miller’s presentation . Co-hosted with Fisher’s Office of Career Management and the Operations and Logistics Management Association, the third-annual Supply Chain Career Connection is a chance to network informally with Fisher’s great graduate students interested in pursuing careers in the supply chain arena. Unlike a rigidly structured job fair, industry attendees are encouraged to mingle with students, share their career path, and share experiences with their current employer.

COE also will announce the featured keynote speakers for its April 2015 summit at the seminar, immediately prior to the 2:30 p.m. networking event.

Seating and space for all of these events are limited, so register now to reserve your spot in-person or to watch a live webcast of the morning and afternoon sessions!

At a glance:

Date: Friday, Sept. 26

Location: Ballroom, The Blackwell, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus, OH

Agenda:

  • 9 a.m.: Board meeting (COE board members only)
  • 10:30 a.m.: Morning Session – Western Digital (COE members only)
  • Noon: Networking lunch (COE members only)
  • 1 p.m.: Afternoon Session – Cummins (COE members and guests welcome)
  • 2:30 p.m.: Supply Chain Career Connection networking event (COE members and guests welcome)
  • 4 p.m.: Seminar concludes

Bracing for your 100-year event

John Gray

Fisher College of Business Associate Professor John Gray in a column for our sister center The Risk Institute tackles the looming threat of the “100-year event” for a company’s supply chain, which could range from a tsunami to a nuclear disaster or factory fire.

The problem with these so-called 100-year happenings, he writes, is that they can come around a lot more often for companies with global reach. A company operating in 30 independent regions, for example, has a more than one-in-four chance of having a 100-year event in any given year.

Prof. Gray looks at a recent supply chain disruption for COE member Greif Inc., an industrial packager that shut down a plant in Turkey after a takeover by alleged political radicals. Greif, it’s important to note, has a well-structured risk management system in place, reinforcing the notion, Gray wrote, that “you can do everything right and will still experience adverse events.”

Read the full article over at the Risk Institute’s blog.

Big data, huge potential: Scotts, Cardinal leaders talk trends in analytics

The stream of shapeless information dubbed “big data” in recent years has swelled to a full-blown waterfall– and for any company looking to maintain competitive edge, it’s drink or drown.

The Center for Operational Excellence at its April Leading Through Excellence summit tackled the issue of big data and analytics through the lens of operations management with a panel discussion that illuminated both the opportunities in wrestling with fast-moving torrents of information and the challenges many organizations still face.

big data analytics scotts cardinal health lexisnexis
From left: Ralph Greco, Fisher College of Business; Anson Asoka, Scotts; Andy Keller, Cardinal Health; and Dihan Rosenburg, LexisNexis. (click to enlarge)

From the discussion, moderated by Ralph Greco, director of the Business Analytics Initiative at Fisher College of Business, here are some key insights from Anson Asoka, VP of global insights and analytics at Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.; Andy Keller, VP of analytics and global process owner at Cardinal Health Inc.; and Dihan Rosenburg, director of product planning at LexisNexis:

1. There’s much more room in the big-data sandbox

High-profile victors at making the most of this ever-growing flood of social media, mobile, customer activity, and market information include titans such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The panelists, however, were a great example of how savvy companies are making the most of information to improve the supply chain, increase customer value, and make better decisions.

Scotts’ Asoka said it’s “an inherent part of our culture to capture information … and be able to leverage it.” That extends to constantly tracking a wide range of customer information before, during, and after product launches and feeding that back to the organization.

“We make products based on customer needs,” Asoka said of the $2.8 billion-a-year lawn and garden giant. “We don’t make products and then go find consumers.”

Cardinal, the $100 billion-a-year pharmaceutical and medical product distributor, is investing in keeping eyes trained on data tied to seasonally fluctuating illnesses, from the flu to allergies, and supply chain disruptions, such as product recalls, Keller said. That includes staying up-to-date on Google Flu Trends, a highly visible – but somewhat controversial – example of data analytics that Keller said is “surprisingly accurate.”

2. Data aren’t the meal – they’re the raw ingredients.

Panelists repeatedly stressed the fact that regardless of how much data a company is able to collect, it’s the sorting and analysis that ultimately create true value.

“Any one data point isn’t going to tell you the answer,” said Cardinal’s Keller. “It’s how we pull it all together, and use the tools and knowledge to pull (the value) out.”

One such tool was developed by Rosenburg at LexisNexis, the online information powerhouse commonly known for its exhaustive stash of archived news and public records.

SmartWatch, launched in 2012, allows customers to monitor supply chain risk through a range of market intelligence that’s color-coded and categorized by its political, economic, societal, technical, legal and environmental factors. The goal, Rosenburg said, is to get customers “ahead of the curve” – noticing, for example, that labor unrest is occurring in a factory’s home country before a full-blown strike occurs.

“When information becomes plentiful and free, the information about information is where the real gold is,” Rosenburg said.

Scotts’ Asoka said the root of the company’s approach to big data and analytics is simply a constant thirst for more.

“We need a lot (of data), and we don’t turn any down,” he said.

3. Infrastructure is important – very important.

Despite its status as a relatively new challenge for companies, the management of the data analytics function isn’t immune to some classic hurdles: Silos, project burn-out, and lack of infrastructure.

Keller of Cardinal said the company has taken a similar approach to the development of its analytics capabilities as its highly successful lean/Six Sigma deployment. In less than a decade, Cardinal’s operational excellence rollout has gone from a supply chain efficiency effort to a catalyst for enterprise-wide culture change.

“As I describe our (analytics) journey, it’s similar to our operational excellence journey,” Keller said. “It’s all about developing a structure, setting up career paths, and getting rigor around establishing a common language.”

This broad-based effort to align people and processes, though, can’t exist on an island, said Asoka of Scotts.

“Infrastructure is important,” he said. “I’ve seen over time that what really benefits an organization is to have analytics people within functions – and if you can have a horizontal cut across all those verticals you can properly manage data, tools and people.”

Most crucially is how data analytics ultimately fits into a company’s broader strategic course, said Rosenburg of LexisNexis.

“Quality requires vigilance,” she said. “It’s not a project you do and forget about.”

4. People are key – and we need many, many more of them.

In the end, panelists said, making better decisions through data analytics doesn’t come down to having the best software program or the biggest data center. It comes down to having people with the skills to sort, scour and shape the information into something valuable.

“If you don’t have the right people to really accelerate (your efforts), you’re going to continue to struggle, spending a lot of time as an organization getting alignment,” said Keller of Cardinal.

So who are these “data scientists?” Asoka of Scotts said there’s no rigid set of skills that can flag a slam-dunk analytics hire – rather, it’s an employee’s relentless sense of curiosity, paired with proven experience in problem-solving, that’s key.

Efforts to develop these data scientists of tomorrow are under way all around the country, but Fisher and The Ohio State University are taking an especially aggressive approach. The university just this year unveiled an undergraduate major in data analytics set to be offered this fall.

At Fisher, Greco said, the college for years has been providing its students with the skills needed to work in analytics, but efforts are afoot to develop an undergraduate business analytics minor and a graduate major for full-time MBA students.

“Students with an outstanding business acumen and skills in logistics, supply chain, HR, finance and other areas combined with analytics will be the managers of the future,” Greco said.

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.

Featured summit tour: LeanCor trip to highlight visual management, employee engagement

lean fulfillment

Need to get out of town for a while?

The Center for Operational Excellence has expanded the scope of the April 9 plant tours offered as part of our three-day Leading Through Excellence summit to include a trip to LeanCor in Florence, Ky., in the Cincinnati metro area. Unlike the five other plant tours we’re offering Wednesday afternoon, this is an all-day experience that heads to two different operations LeanCor runs, both of which are models of enterprise-wide lean application.

The lean-focused third-party logistics provider supports 44 plants, five cross-docks, 1,700-plus suppliers, and 1,200-plus outbound shipping locations. In any given week, they coordinate the movement of 17,000 tons of cargo.

The exclusive summit tour is taking attendees to LeanCor’s control center for tactical transportation management, where visual management is used not just to track the movement of cargo but highlight problems. Brad Bossence, a LeanCor vice president, tells me the tour also highlights how leaders are engaged in problem-solving.

After lunch, the LeanCor tour heads to a 110,000-square-foot in-bound replenishment facility (pictured, above) the organization runs nearby, which supports a number of major automakers. Here, you’ll see how LeanCor has implemented visible metrics for tracking the engagement of the 100-worker team hour-by-hour, painting an agile, accurate picture of how workflow is moving.

We all stare down complexity day-in, day-out. LeanCor offers a compelling, multifaceted playbook for tackling it.

The LeanCor tour already is 50 percent booked. Check out details on this event and others we’re offering by visiting the official Leading Through Excellence site or registering.

Giant Eagle, Marathon Petroleum leaders: To get better, learn from the best

The two speakers for the Center for Operational Excellence’s Feb. 14 seminars couldn’t have been from two more different companies, but both emphasized a crucial truth about the journey of process improvement: You’re never too good to learn – or borrow – from others.

John Lucot
John Lucot

Take Pittsburgh-based grocery chain and COE member Giant Eagle Inc., whose President and COO, John Lucot, spoke to our crowd of more than 100 members and guests. The company has been in existence for more than three-quarters of a century, but Lucot said recent years have marked “the most exciting time in the history of our company.”

Emerging from an economic downturn in which consumers tightened the purse strings, Giant Eagle has developed new formats and transformed the customer experience. For proof, look no further than its Market District location a few miles from Ohio State University, which has become the unofficial epicenter of its neighborhood in a few short years. This has happened all while the company has aggressively maintained focus on health and safety and implemented lean principles throughout the supply chain. Lucot told the crowd that Giant Eagle has drawn inspiration from organizations ranging from the Cleveland Clinic – a gold standard in patient experience – to Alcoa, a fellow Pittsburgh company whose safety centric turnaround under former CEO Paul O’Neill is the stuff of legend.

And while Giant Eagle started down its road to operational excellence with an eye on removing cost and boosting efficiency, the balance sheet doesn’t rule the day, Lucot said.

“We never, ever talk about the financial impact of the things we do,” he said. “We are unwavering in our commitment to health and safety, and no one in our organization has the right to put money or anything else above those efforts.”

It’s that same focus on Giant Eagle’s employees and its customers that underlies a comment Lucot made that’s destined for the whiteboard: “We have no right to ask people to do things that don’t add value.”

George McAfee
George McAfee

Speaking later in the day, George McAfee, marine logistics manager at Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum, shared the challenges posed to knowledge management and transfer in a work force with a widening generation gap and a growing share of over-55 workers.

With those dynamics, McAfee said, it’s even more crucial to develop standard procedures to capture and communicate processes so a company’s mission, vision and values don’t get muddled over time.

And echoing Lucot, McAfee said benchmarking – even outside one’s industry – is key to finding the right path.

“You must be willing to admit someone else might be better at what you’re doing,” he said.

This article appears in the March 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-sponsored research maps holistic look at lean supply chain

The numbers don’t lie, as the saying goes, but Ilaria Raniero knows some tell the truth better than others – and many more aren’t worth listening to.

An executive summary of Raniero’s COE-sponsored research can be downloaded here

Raniero (pictured, right), a visiting scholar to the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business from the Polytechnic Institute of Milan (Politecnico di Milano) in Italy, recently conducted a wide-ranging research project with several Center for Operational Excellence member companies as part of her graduate thesis. This sweeping look at a wide variety of industries uncovered some promising trends in how  lean evolves in organizations over time and sheds light on how the successful ones select the right metrics.

More importantly, Raniero – with the help of COE Associate Director Tom Goldsby – developed a new performance measurement framework for the lean supply chain. The final product is a road map of sorts that could help organizations move from implementing lean in a single silo to a more holistic approach, all while measuring what matters – and ignoring what doesn’t.

Redefining performance

Raniero’s research, “Applying Lean Principles in the Supply Chain: An Examination of Measurement System Adaptation,” is the product of more than 80 hours of face-to-face interviews conducted between October 2012 and February 2013 with 10 companies, though much of the research looked in-depth at Dublin-based COE member Cardinal Health.

The inspiration for the research, Raniero said, was rooted in a key observation she made about organizational behavior.

“The measurement system is something that drives the company’s behavior and drives employees’ behavior, too,” she said. “As companies adapt their strategy, they need to adapt their measurement systems accordingly.”

Tom Goldsby
Tom Goldsby

Selecting the wrong metrics plays out in familiar fashion for many: A measurement that seemingly aligns with company goals – cost per unit, for example – ultimately can encourage very “un-lean” behavior. Aggressive bulk purchasing might lower a company’s cost per unit, but it could wreak havoc on inventory levels and other key measures. A company taking a broader look at the supply chain might instead choose to track total cost of ownership, a metric that would raise a red flag much sooner.

Raniero’s research, in fact, found that companies with a track record of success in lean implementation have taken such a journey: First, applying lean in operations, then spreading it across the entire enterprise. The final, and largest, leap came when companies began to bring this waste-zapping, value-focused strategy to their interactions with suppliers, customers, their own employee relations, and their sustainability initiatives.

In short, it ultimately becomes a question not of performing better in tried-and-true metrics, but broadening the very definition of performance, said Goldsby, a professor of logistics at Fisher.

“Companies are becoming aware of how operational excellence can impact customer retention, employee satisfaction, supplier relations, and sustainability concerns,” he said. “As a result, companies are introducing new measures that capture these dimensions of performance, which yields a more holistic perspective on the health and future prospects for an enterprise.”

This holistic perspective is captured in Raniero’s formal framework of five voices: Voice of Customers, Voice of Business, Voice of Employees, Voice of Suppliers, and Voice of Sustainability.

That final “voice” has taken on a much more important role in today’s business environment, but Raniero said companies wrestle with it nonetheless.

“Many companies struggle to find the right measures and don’t know how to tie sustainability into the profit-loss statement,” she said.

By making sustainability one part of a larger lean strategy, the report states, it’s possible to use tools such as value-stream mapping to identify environmental wastes and ultimately reduce cost.

Honing in

With five distinct “voices” and metrics for each one, how do successful lean organizations not wind up with too many dials on the dashboard? The answer, Raniero’s research found: They adapt metrics along with shifts in strategy, keeping an eye out for newly important ones and those that no longer guide lean behaviors.

John Matera, COO of COE member Willow Wood and one of Raniero’s interviewees, said his part in the research project has helped the company take a closer look at its “voice of business,” which includes key financial and operational measures. Where once Willow Wood was tracking as many as 15 business-related metrics, it’s now working down to half as many.

“(Fifteen) is a lot to keep track of on a regular basis,” Matera said. “Working with Ilaria has helped us focus on what’s important.”

This so-called “structured adaptation” in measurement systems is a defining mark of a company making progress in its lean journey. It also highlights another key feature of Raniero’s framework: Strategy influences each one of the five “voices” by guiding what’s measured, but the results themselves can play a role in strategy over time.

It’s this complex interplay that Alan Deutschendorf, vice president of operational excellence at Cardinal, says the company can evaluate with a renewed perspective after taking part in Raniero’s COE-sponsored research.

“This has really given us food for thought as we update our strategy and tactics and continue to develop a culture of operational excellence,” he said.

To view an executive summary of Raniero’s research, download the document here.

Fisher prof’s pharma research highlighted in ‘U.S. News’ article

As pharmaceutical recalls continue to hit headlines, an ongoing focus of research for one Fisher College of Business professor is taking on a new urgency.

John Gray Fisher College of Business Ohio State
Prof. Gray, speaking at the Center for Operational Excellence’s April “Leading Through Excellence” summit.

Fisher Prof. John Gray and two co-authors of an unpublished paper recently wrote an article featured in the online edition of U.S. News & World Report that highlights the ongoing challenges pharmaceutical manufacturers face in maintaining quality, particularly when production has been outsourced or offshored. U.S. News published the article just days after GlaxoSmithKline announced a recall of asthma drug Ventolin and several months after dozens of people died because of quality issues at the New England Compounding Pharmacy in Massachusetts.

Gray, along with Prof. Aleda Roth of Clemson University and Associate Prof. Brian Tomlin of Dartmouth College, took a close look at the performance of pharmaceutical plants run by firms that own the brands, versus those run by contract manufacturers. There was not an overall difference, but their research did indicate less-experienced and less-regulated contract manufacturers had a higher risk of quality issues.

“Our research provides empirical evidence that drug manufacturers are hard-pressed to consistently maintain high quality operations even in their own domestic facilities,” Gray and his co-authors wrote, referring to multiple research papers. “This challenge is magnified when production is performed in offshore and outsourced plants.”

The challenging business of making and supplying safe pharmaceuticals has been a topic of interest in Gray’s research for years.  In 2011, he co-authored a study published in the Journal of Operations Management that found drugs produced in offshore manufacturing plants – even when run by an American company – pose a greater quality risk than those produced stateside. They attributed this result to differences in language and culture between the plant’s personnel and those at headquarters.

Gray told us then that “just one quality error that hurts customers or leads to a recall can be extremely costly to a company responsible.”

What makes Gray’s research with his co-authors so resonant these days is the underlying truth that goes beyond organizational borders and language barriers: Successful quality reforms come from far-reaching culture change across the entire supply chain, a feat that isn’t easy, cheap, or quick. For any industry, defeating a culture of silos, miscommunication, and blame is a hard-won battle.

It’s an urge in the pharmaceutical industry, and countless others, to turn to technology – buy Gray and his colleagues write in the U.S. News article that the solution, instead is in people and day-to-day processes.

“Absent such an organizational mindset,” they write, “quality failures will occur even with the best technology.”

MBOE recap: The cold, harsh reality of the value stream map

Google “value stream map” and you’ll get about 5 million hits. You can read as much as you want on it, but the only way to truly learn is by doing one – and in my experience, you learn more with each new map. Learning to See, co-authored by lean guru John Shook, gave our MBOE students this past week a prime on the value stream map, and in class, they learned much more about the five components to one: Customer, Supplier, Process Steps, Process Metrics and Information Flow.

So why should one care about mapping a value stream? For starters, it helps you answer a ton of questions about what you do day in and day out. Just a sample:

  • Are you producing to takt (customer demand), creating more than is needed or you are so slow?
  • How are you balancing supply with demand?
  • Do you have too many, too few or just the right amount of people doing the work?
  • Are there wastes in the process?
  • Are people undergoing unnecessary movements to get materials or information to do the work?
  • How do all the steps communicate with each other?

A value stream map gives you a snapshot of your process in a given time period. It tells you how much of the process you are studying is actually value adding. It might be shocking for someone mapping the first time to find out that more than 90% of the work they do is non-value added.

Here’s an example of that: Executive in Residence Gary Butler this past week told of his first encounter with MBOE Sensei Paul Kerry, a coach in our program. Kerry asked Butler and his executive team to tell him about their expenses, and Butler explained it by making the drawing above.

Kerry turned around and drew what he said was the reality of the business, which you’ll see below. A value stream map gives you a new lens through which you can look at your business. And what you see isn’t always pretty.

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.