Continuous improvement, grassroots-style: Inside Clopay Building Products

Frustration is a frequent spark for innovation, and that’s right where some product staging employees at garage door manufacturer Clopay Building Products found themselves.

The process for staging and processing Clopay’s sectional door configuration bundles – unwieldy boxes that group door components for eventual installation – entailed comparing a printed list of the day’s shipping requirements with a string of numbers on the boxes themselves. It was time-consuming task, one process technician Brice Johnson saw a way to improve: Why not provide a visual cue for the carts that needed pulled that day?

The solution wasn’t fancy, but it did the trick: Walk the floor of the massive manufacturing operation today and you’ll see youth soccer training cones perched on stacks of the bundles. Problem solved.

Joey Fransway of Clopay Building Products

This front-line problem solving is something that might not have happened as frequently as a few years ago at Clopay Building Products, but it’s happening today thanks to a grassroots continuous improvement movement at the Troy-based company shepherded by Joey Fransway, Director of Quality, Environmental Health & Safety, and others. Fransway and his team will be opening their doors for an inside look at their journey on Tuesday, April 10, as part of The Ohio State Center for Operational Excellence’s sixth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit.

‘On a path’

Fransway credits the company’s COE membership as a driving force in its continuous improvement push.

“We’re still on a path, and that path is through connecting with other people through the COE,” he said. “We want to learn from others.”

Clopay Building Products is one of about 20 manufacturing companies that make up COE’s member roster, but it holds the distinction of being the largest manufacturer of residential garage doors, and one of the largest makers of commercial sectional doors, in the U.S. The company employs about 1,600, more than 1,000 of whom are at the Troy operation. The residential and commercial garage door market, according to Griffon, has been estimated to be about a $2 billion business, making Clopay Building Products a major player – thanks in no small part to its exclusive deals with Home Depot and Menards to supply residential garage doors to their stores throughout North America.

Clopay Building Products’ growth has created challenges and opportunities in operations and design. Volume is up, but so is the diversity of products, which range from standard to hand-crafted high-end.

“People used to look at garage doors as a thing that got them in and out of a garage,” Fransway said. “Now it’s an extension of themselves.”

The core tenet of Clopay Building Products’ continuous improvement push has been to empower employees at all levels to solve problems. That’s entailed a rollout of visual management boards throughout the plant, coupled with regular stand-up meetings, along with added touches such as group get-togethers to view TED Talks. The foundation of it all is a “Blue Belt” lean/Six Sigma training program rolled out a year ago that has enrolled more than 60 employees and graduated more than 20, Fransway said.

An example of Clopay Building Products’ visual management on the floor

“We’re focused on getting everybody down that path to continuous improvement, getting information to people on the floor,” he said. “If this is just top-down, it doesn’t do us any good.”

Buy-in is growing at the Troy operation, but this isn’t just happening inside Clopay Building Products’ four walls. The company is heading upstream, too, connecting suppliers to its Blue Belt resources and tying it to its existing supplier certification program.

The locker room

Back inside the Troy operation, a major focus has been on uniting employees to drive collaboration and innovation. Post-it Notes have helped. Fransway and others have transformed an area of the back office previously used for storage into what’s called the “Quality Locker Room,” a hands-on hub for tracking initiatives using visual boards and Post-its.

“When you’re just making lists on the computer, it never goes anywhere,” Fransway said. “When you’re in this room you’re a part of it.”

With its mix of front-line empowerment and visual management, coupled with a relentless focus on quality, the Clopay Building Products continuous improvement initiative is a benchmark in “starting from scratch” and using existing resources – along with relationships like COE – to drive cultural change.

When the company opens its doors in April for the tour, attendees will have the opportunity to see the Quality Locker Room and take a guided tour of the plant, which will stop at about 15 different stations on the floor to highlight how continuous improvement initiatives are being embedded throughout.

It’s a great deal of progress – but like any journey to excellence, it’s far from done.

“Where we want to be is nothing like where we are today,” Fransway said.

Seats remain available for the Clopay Building Products tour. They can be claimed by registering for the summit by the Monday, April 2, deadline.

 

Award-winning summit keynote Duhigg shares ‘Smarter Faster Better’ insights

Charles Duhigg took the stage at The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence’s first Leading Through Excellence summit nearly five years ago.

A lot’s changed since then.

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

A mere three days after his featured keynote for the event, he was part of a team of New York Times staffers who won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for its iEconomy series, what the Pulitzer committee called a “penetrating look into business practices by Apple and other technology companies.” And the book The Power of Habit? Released in February 2012, it became a bona fide hit, spending more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. He followed up Habit with Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, another Times bestseller he’ll be speaking about as a featured keynote on Wednesday, April 11, at COE’s sixth-annual summit.

In the run-up to his return to the Buckeye State, Duhigg spoke to COE Associate Director Matt Burns about the inspiration for his latest work – and what we can take away from it. Here’s a (lightly edited) recap of their chat …

Matt Burns: What led you from The Power of Habit to Smarter Faster Better?

Charles Duhigg: After The Power of Habit, a question kept coming up. People kept on saying, “We know how to change habits – what are the right habits?” At the same time, I started noticing things happening in my own life: The book did really well, and I was grateful for that. I was getting opportunities to do lots of things but I just felt like I was working all the time. I started asking myself: “What am I doing wrong?” If this is what success feels like, sign me back up for failure.

Then, I started to contact researchers and ask them how people can get so much done and not let it ruin their lives. And what they said is that rather than working hard, the people who are the most productive and successful have figured out how to work smarter. They understand the difference between being busy and being productive – and the difference is that instead of working all the time, you’re working on things that actually matter. They can recognize the right priorities and goals in such a way that priorities are honored and responded to. They can innovate on demand rather than waiting for a muse to strike them. They can take some of the amazing amounts of data that we have and grasp knowledge from them.

MB: You start the book off by writing about motivation. Looking at how you’ve observed people functioning in organizations, where are they going wrong in this regard?

CD: People focus too often on the wrong kind of measurement. We tend to focus on what we measure, so if your measure is getting your inbox to zero, it’s not going to be surprising that you spend all your time e-mailing. The first thing that happens when it comes to motivation and goal setting is you have to take a step back and ask: “What do I really want to achieve here? What’s important to me?” If your answer is just that you want to make it through the day, you’re gonna make it through the day. But if you have the time and space to say, “What is my deeper aspiration? What is my bigger goal?,” then you’re going to be able to align your choices to what actually matters to you.

MB: You spend a lot of the time in the book on team building. What surprised you about your research in this area?

CD: The biggest surprise for me was that who is on a team matters much less than how that team interacts. The conventional wisdom is that we should spend a lot of time thinking about “casting,” getting the right types of people on the team: introverts, extroverts, people who believe in the same type of leadership style. But all the research shows us that how a team interacts with each other matters much more than who is on it. You could have all “A” players on a team – but if you don’t have the right culture, they’re not going to gel together. You could have all “B” players on a team and if the culture is right, they could exceed what the “A” players do.

The other thing that’s really interesting is you can come up with a formula to help people come up with the right team culture by driving a sense of psychological safety: conversational turn-taking, ostentatious listening – those are just a few things that contribute to it.

MB: One of the big themes at our summit this year is disruption, namely how things like automation and data are driving changes in our work – and that’s something you address, too. How are these forces changing how we should be making decisions?

CD: Decisions can be much more informed now. Before, information was a scarce resource and the people who made great decisions were the people who had access to more information. That’s no longer true. But as a result, people have stopped applying critical thinking in some respect and allowed information to guide their choices. We now know there’s a big difference between being exposed to information and turning that into knowledge.

The key there is the concept of disfluency (Editor’s note: Duhigg’s book defines this as making information “harder to process at first, but stickier once it was really understood” [242]). This can seem slower and less productive in the short run – instead of looking at an Excel spreadsheet you have to sit down and mess around with it – but we know that, over time, this makes people more productive. Instead of absorbing information, they’re transmitting it into actual knowledge.

MB: You framed The Power of Habit with a great little anecdote about your “cookie habit” and how you used research from that book to break it. How has Smarter Faster Better changed you on a day-to-day basis?

CD: A great example of this involves my kids. When I wrote The Power of Habit I spent a lot of time with my kids looking at cues and rewards and shaping behavior, but with Smarter Faster Better the conversations I have with my kids are more about asking them: What can you do every day to put yourself in charge of your own life? When we go to school some mornings, I ask them to “tell me the story of today:” What do you think the best part of today and the worst part of today will be? The reason this is a good conversation is that it teaches them to build mental models about their day.

If we build mental models about how we want our day to unfold, we know that helps our brain remain focused – it also teaches us to have an internal locus of control. We are in charge of what happens every day in our lives. If you’re in charge, you have the power to guide yourself.

Most of life is reactive – the point is to become more proactive, and if you can learn that as a habit, it can be really powerful.

Duhigg will be signing copies of his books following his 3:40 p.m. keynote on April 11. The Leading Through Excellence summit is nearly sold out, with only a few seats available.

Ohio State men’s basketball Coach Holtmann joins COE summit keynote line-up

The final keynote announced for next month’s Leading Through Excellence summit is the latest high-profile hire in the world of Buckeyes sports who’s off to an auspicious start.

The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is thrilled to announce Buckeye Men’s Basketball Head Coach Chris Holtmann will serve as the morning keynote on the final day of the April 10-12 summit. He joins fellow keynote speakers Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Power of Habit; Karen Martin, author of Clarity First; and Bradley Staats, a researcher and author of the forthcoming Never Stop Learning.

Coach Holtmann’s keynote slot last year featured a visit from Buckeye Football Head Coach Urban Meyer.

The announcement comes just weeks after Holtmann clinched Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in his first season with the Buckeyes, who are 24-8 overall and 15-3 in the Big Ten. Holtmann, who’s won Coach of the Year three times now in three different leagues, coached the Buckeyes to a 9-0 run out of the gate in Big Ten play. That’s the first time that’s happened for seven or more games in nearly a century, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Check out his full bio on COE’s summit website.

In his keynote, Coach Holtmann will be sharing career and leadership insights – and some thoughts on the season – as well as taking questions from the audience.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Holtmann take the stage at our sixth-annual summit,” said COE Executive Director Peg Pennington. “This event is all about developing team-building and leadership skills, and Coach Holtmann has shown he has a lot to offer in both.”

The four featured Leading Through Excellence keynotes are among more than 40 sessions offered at the summit, which is more than 80% booked a little more than a month out. The dynamic mix of workshops, tours, breakout sessions, networking events and keynotes is COE’s signature annual event, which is open to the general public as well as employees of member companies.

Check out the summit website for more details on sessions and pricing …

 

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.

Summit speakers talk lean, supply chain, “EQ” in new podcasts

Miss this year’s Leading Through Excellence summit or looking to revisit it?

eric olsen cal poly
Cal Poly Prof. Eric Olsen, who hosted a workshop and breakout at this year’s summit and is featured on the “Manufacturing Tomorrow” podcast.

COE once again has partnered with the Ohio Manufacturing Institute on its semi-monthly Manufacturing Tomorrow podcast to feature speakers from the three-day summit in its two latest editions. In the dual editions of the summit-centered podcast, you’ll hear Executive Producer Kathryn Kelley interview summit speakers:

  • Cary Dunston, CEO of kitchen and bath cabinet manufacturer American Woodmark Corp., a featured breakout speaker for his insights on leadership and emotional intelligence;
  • Derek Browning, director of consulting services for LeanCor Supply Chain Group, who presented a breakout on supply chain excellence;
  • Eric Olsen, director of Central Coast Lean and a professor at California Polytechnic State University, who ran a popular workshop on facilitating lean and offered a breakout session on the “power of lean habits;”
  • and Mark Reich, COO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, who hosted a breakout session on hoshin planning.

You can check out the first round of the podcast interviews, featuring Dunston and Browning, here, while round two – with Olsen and Reich – can be found here.

COE regularly partners with OMI to bring speakers to Manufacturing Tomorrow. Past COE collaborations have resulted in podcasts interviewing Goodyear’s Norbert Majerus, COE Executive Director Peg Pennington, Snap-On Inc. CEO Nick Pinchuk and more.

The full Manufacturing Tomorrow podcast archive is available on iTunes.

COE Summit 2017: 10 weeks out, 10 things to know

summit-banner-resized-small

In just 10 weeks, 400 process excellence leaders from around the country are gathering at the Fawcett Center in Columbus, Ohio, for the Center for Operational Excellence’s fifth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit, a wide-ranging deep dive into problem-solving and leadership insights featuring two-dozen speakers.

Here are 10 things you should know as the April 11-13 event approaches:

We’re 70% booked. Registrations are coming in at a record pace that could lead to a full sell-out before April 1. If you’re considering returning to the summit or joining us for the first time, now’s your opportunity to guarantee your spot and have the best access to available Tuesday workshops and tours.

Early bird pricing ends Feb. 13. Right now, all member and non-member registrations to the summit are automatically discounted by 5%, while groups of five or more that register trigger an additional 5% discount. On Feb. 14, one of those price breaks will vanish, leaving only the group discount on the table. Gather your team now and sign up before then to ensure the best pricing.

fedex_servicesMost breakout sessions are up for view. Leading Through Excellence offers five breakout session windows across April 12-13, with four options during each session. Of the 20 total options, 15 full abstracts are now posted on our website, with the remaining five set to debut by Friday, Feb. 10. Take a look now at what’s being offered and some of the organizations featured, including Cleveland Clinic, Bose, LeanOhio, IBM, LeanCor and FedEx.

debra jasper
Debra Jasper

Another keynote will be announced next Friday. Right now, we’re thrilled to feature Mindset Digital CEO and organizational communication expert Debra Jasper and The Alliance co-author Chris Yeh as keynotes for Leading Through Excellence. If you’re joining us for the Feb. 10 seminar via live-streaming or in person, you’ll be the first to hear our latest keynote announcement, which we’ll be posting on our website and via social media later that day.

Workshops and tours are filling up… Even with a record 15 workshop and tour offerings on Tuesday, April 11, some sessions are beginning to fill up. The all-day “Business Storytelling for Leaders” workshop hosted by ThedaCare has reached capacity along with the morning “Aligning Improvement with What’s Important” strategy workshop hosted by lean expert Beau Keyte. In the afternoon, tours to Anheuser-Busch InBev and Fuse by Cardinal Health – 2016 offerings back by popular demand – have booked up, as has a tour of BMW Financial Services.

cleveland clinic logobut many are still available. The upside? Another 10 tour and workshop offerings – including a newly added afternoon session of Keyte’s “Aligning Improvements” session – are still up for grabs. That includes an all-day lean office-focused tour of the Cleveland Clinic’s massive Revenue Cycle Management area, a morning crash course in data analysis, a zombie-themed afternoon Six Sigma workshop, a trip to Honeywell Aerospace, and more.

We’re going digital. Leading Through Excellence is debuting an official app for this year’s summit that includes all information on sessions and keynotes, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and more. Attendees also will have the opportunity to connect with others via messaging, rate sessions, and submit Q&A electronically. The summit app will roll out a month before the summit, giving you a chance to explore what it  has to offer and make the most of it across the event’s three days.

Hotel deadlines are approaching. Coming in from out of town? Bringing a group? There’s still time to take advantage of specially reserved hotel blocks at two venues near the Fawcett Center: The Hilton Garden Inn and Staybridge Suites OSU. Hilton Garden Inn’s block pricing is available through March 10, while a newly added block at Staybridge must be booked by March 25. Rooms in the summit block have sold out each year in advance of the deadline, so head to our lodging/travel page to make your reservations.

Our summit schedule has changed – for your convenience. To better accommodate travel schedules on the summit’s final day, Thursday, April 13, Leading Through Excellence will kick off at 8 a.m. and conclude with a 12:30 p.m. lunch following closing keynote Chris Yeh.

Thursday’s early start is worth it. A very special guest will take the stage at 8 a.m. on the summit’s final day – and you won’t want to miss it. Intrigued? We’ll be making the announcement in the March summit preview edition of our Current State e-newsletter and on this blog.

Ready to register? Click here or check out event details on our official site.

Lean, the Four-Letter Word: Dan Markovitz on his new book – and his newfound approach to teaching op-ex

The core principles at the heart of Dan Markovitz’ latest book, Building the Fit Organization, are the very essence of lean thinking. Just don’t expect to see the word “lean” past the introduction. Or, for that matter, any references to a certain automaker, its namesake production system, or a litany of Japanese words.

And that’s the point.

D. Markovitz
D. Markovitz

Building the Fit Organization, which the author breaks down in an exclusive half-day workshop as part of COE’s Leading Through Excellence summit on April 12, is Markovitz’ response to a disconnect he sees in how we communicate lean concepts and leadership principles to our people. We recently spoke to Markovitz about what that disconnect is – and how first book since his Shingo Prize-winning A Factory of One tackles it.

COE:  There are a ton of books on lean out there. What inspired you to write this one?

Dan Markovitz: Over the years I’ve seen a lot of really smart people work with companies trying to improve operational performance by driving a lean transformation – and yet the number of companies that actually succeeded is vanishingly small. This book is an exploration, my attempt to explain one of the root causes of this and rectify it.

COE: So what is that root cause?

DM: We’re asking people to think about their work differently, yet we make it unnecessarily difficult for them to accept it. I see a lot of people using the language of Toyota, literally using Japanese, telling people working in a bank or a hospital how Toyota builds cars. Their very first response is to lean back in their chairs, cross their arms, and say, “We don’t make cars.” The leader, consultant, or improvement professional then has a huge uphill battle to explain that they’re not trying to turn them into factory workers. Then, after a week, a month, or six months, people may start to get it. If we could speak to them using analogies and metaphors that make sense to them, all the sudden we don’t have to go uphill.

COE: You’re definitely not letting consultants such as yourself off the hook here.

DM: It’s been a failure of imagination on our part to not be able to say, “Let me put this in a language that makes sense to you.” There’s nothing requiring Japanese to describe these ideas – they happen to have just been described in Japanese first. If we can express these ideas in English that resonates with people now, it makes it easier to get to “That totally makes sense. I get it.”

COE: You went with a physical fitness metaphor for your book. Why?

building fit organization_coverDM: Fitness works for me – I used to be a competitive runner and a running coach. You could just as easily use a metaphor of music or writing, all kinds of things. I believe that if we’re a little more creative about the way we tell the story, the way we present the ideas, it’ll be a whole lot easier for us to sell the ideas and get people to embrace and implement them.

COE: You also made the very conscious decision to leave tools out of your book. What led to that?

DM: Oftentimes, we lead with tools and we end up losing people. The tools that people learn – 5S, for instance – often are designed to solve specific problems. Who knows what your specific problem is? With this book, rather than talking about tools, I wanted to talk about principles. It’s important that people grasp the fundamental concepts and understand how to become better, fitter organizations before messing around with tools.

COE: What do you see as the audience for your book and, by extension, your workshop on April 12?

DM: Certainly both are for people who are relatively new to the idea of continuous improvement but might be intimidated by the all the Toyota, 5S, kanban, water spider talk. The second audience, though, is companies who have started lean or some continuous improvement program and seen it stall out. This is a way for them to reintroduce it in a fashion that would be more accessible. I also think this would be really valuable for leaders in an organization. The principles I talk about really need to be lived and embodied by leadership. If a leader’s not committed to a fit organization, it’s not going to take hold.

Learn more about Dan’s session, and others being offered at Leading Through Excellence, on the official event website.

Going, going … : The latest on COE Summit 2016 registration

The good news? COE’s fourth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit is less than three months away, and you still have more than two weeks to save up to 15% on registration.

The bad news? Seats are selling fast – we’re already half-booked – and some tours and workshops are either full or approaching sell-out.

On the fence? Now’s the time to act to ensure you have access to the most options. Here’s a look at where our popular, limited-capacity options on the first day of the summit stand:

Too Late: The Tuesday, April 12, morning tour of global brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev is completely sold out. Luckily …

Nearly Sold Out: Limited seating remains for the Tuesday afternoon Anheuser-Busch InBev tour. Another tour offered Tuesday afternoon, to Cardinal Health’s Fuse software development operation, has a scant few slots remaining.

Gaining Steam: Planning on taking part in our marquee workshop for this year’s summit, The Pit Crew Experience? A number of seats already are pre-booked, while additional tickets are selling quickly. We expect this option to sell out by late February. Another tour gaining popularity among registrations is the trip to longtime COE member Abbott Nutrition, whose massive Columbus operation employs thousands in the region.

These are only a handful of the day-one options at Leading Through Excellence; capacity remains for a number of morning workshops and afternoon tours.

Be sure to check out the full summit site for details on our featured keynote speakers, our still-growing roster of breakout session hosts, and discount pricing.

Ready to register? Click here.

Summit pit crew workshop a race to master lean concepts

At least one workshop at this April’s Leading Through Excellence summit is a must-have on your wish list.

pit crew
PIT was founded in 2000 and has since hosted hundreds of companies for training.

The Center for Operational Excellence this spring is partnering with Mooresville, N.C.-based Performance Instruction & Training (PIT), a hotbed for training pit crew athletes worldwide. Not only will PIT leader Ben Cook be kicking off the second day of the summit on Wednesday, April 13, but PIT will be running a limited-capacity hands-on workshop on Tuesday, April 12.

Available as a workshop Tuesday afternoon is “The Pit Crew Experience,” which draws on the high-stakes world of pro-racing pit crews to explore the lean concepts we can apply at our organizations. Much in the spirit of the pit crew changeover itself, though, this workshop is hands-on and fast-paced: After a brief presentation on the “think inside the box” concepts PIT uses to teach its athletes, participants will be plunged into a multi-round tire-changing competition that puts those concepts immediately to work.

This is an unprecedented opportunity to experience the best-in-class lean training offered by PIT, which began operations in 2000 and has trained more than 500 athletes along with more than 200 businesses. In Mooresville, also known as Race City, USA, its campus encompasses 5.5 acres and 32,000 square feet.

Though a highlight of the upcoming summit, “The Pit Crew Experience” is one of 11 workshops and tours being offered on the first day of the summit, which runs April 12-14. Head to our official site for more details.

Authors, visionary leaders make keynote lineup for 2016 summit

With registration for the Center for Operational Excellence’s fourth-annual Leading Through Excellence summit set to open next month, we’ve unveiled the featured keynote line-up for the April 2016 event.

Leading Through Excellence will take place April 12-14 in Columbus, Ohio, and feature its signature mix of plant tours, industry and researcher-led breakout sessions, and dynamic keynote speakers. Registration opens Monday, Dec. 7, with a 15% discount in effect until Jan. 1, 2016.

Joining the summit next year as keynotes are:

ben cook pitBen Cook, program director, Performance Instruction and Training (PIT) – Cook, who kicks off Leading Through Excellence on Wednesday, April 13, is a leader at PIT, the award-winning corporate and pit crew training operation in North Carolina that draws pit athletes from around the world. A veteran of the racing world, Cook works with organizations to absorb and strengthen the team-building concepts crucial to the high-octane realm of the pro-racing pit crew: Communication, handoffs, and a culture of accountability.

Cook’s organization will be at Leading Through Excellence next year on the summit’s first day, April 12, to host an exclusive, half-day pit-crew experience workshop that allows attendees to hone those skills in an actual pit-stop setting!

francesca ginoFrancesca Gino, professor of business administration, Harvard Business School; author, Sidetracked – Gino is a researcher and author whose work has been featured in The Economist, the New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and others. Her research focuses on on judgment and decision-making, negotiation, ethics, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Her book, Sidetracked, looks at how decisions in work and life get derailed and how we can stick to the plan.

Gino has received research awards from the National Science Foundation and the Academy of Management. In addition to teaching, she advises firms and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of negotiation, decision-making, and organizational behavior.

todd henryTodd Henry, author, The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words Henry, whose keynote closes the summit April 14, regularly works with companies on how to develop practices and systems that lead to everyday brilliance. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks internationally on creativity, productivity, leadership, and passion for work.

At next year’s summit, Henry will be drawing on his two latest books. In 2013’s Die Empty, he identifies the forces that cause even the brightest, most skilled people to become stagnant in their life and career, and introduces practices that help them build a body of work they can be proud of. In this year’s Louder Than Words, he teaches how to build a body of work that creates value and resonates inside and outside your organization.

billy taylor goodyearBilly Taylor, director, Commercial, Off-Highway, and Support Manufacturing, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. – Taylor is a respected, motivating and natural visionary leader with over 20 years of diverse experience in all phases of operations management. He took on the role of Director of Commercial, Off-Highway, and Support Manufacturing, North America, at Goodyear this year, after serving as Director of North American Commercial Manufacturing. Past roles at Goodyear include plant director and plant manager.

Taylor is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt business leader with a proven track record of accelerating revenue growth through strategic and tactical development and implementation of operational excellence systems and people engagement processes. He has his MBA from Baker University and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Prairie View A&M University.

For more details on the summit, click here