Results Driven Continuous Improvement

Tim Blubaugh, Director, Operational Excellence, USG Corporation

Results Driven Continuous ImprovementTim Blubaugh, Director, Operational Excellence, USG Corporation

At USG, we are building the skills and capabilities of our people to create a faster-learning organization that develops long-term competitive advantages and real-time results.

We have done this through foundational continuous improvement methodologies, including our reliability performance model started in 2002, a project-based Lean Six Sigma deployment in 2010, and a lean management system program in 2015.

To date, our continuous improvement programs have developed:

6,000 employees trained in various areas of maintenance

500 certified belts who tackle projects of larger scope and complexity

3,000+ employees throughout the company involved in the lean management systems

Our Operational Excellence programs have created value for the organization, including:

Offset of financially-validated inflationary costs and significant cost reductions

Implementation of tools to create speed and agility, along with an increased awareness around matching the right problem or scope to the right level of resources

Evolution of training into scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions that best serve the business through a combination of virtual platforms, blended learning, coaching, instruction, strategic project management and problem solving, as well as day to day continuous improvement lean management

We accomplished this by selecting partners with the expertise to advance our programs, including PCA Consultants (reliability programs), the George Group/Accenture (Lean Six Sigma) and the Murli Group (lean management) as well as 3 Circle Partners.

Initial training seeded the organization with increased skills and capabilities to lead, train, and execute. In each subsequent rollout, USG has developed the skills in-house to lead the process improvement initiatives, and today the program is fully self-sustaining.

"We have leveraged and incorporated key areas of the business into the process, utilizing the skills of our technical services and innovation center teams"

We have leveraged and incorporated key areas of the business into the process, utilizing the skills of our technical services and innovation center teams. We have also incorporated operational excellence programs into our Global Supply Chain and other corporate functions, where we have supported efforts to improve customer satisfaction with better on-time delivery and order accuracy.   

We have developed strategic measurement platforms through integrating software from Companion (Minitab), which augments learning, streamlines administration, and tracks financials.  Our finance department has been helpful in creating the standards for measuring each improvement, followed by 12 months’ post-close assessment of financial performance and auditing. Today, we have data and validated results for the last 12 years (18 years if including reliability data), reinforcing and driving reinvestment in continuous improvement within USG. 

I believe the keys to our successful programs have been:

Engaged leadership at every level

Evolution of training into scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions that best serve the business through a combination of virtual platforms, blended learning, coaching, instruction, strategic project management and problem solving, as well as day to day continuous improvement lean management

We accomplished this by selecting partners with the expertise to advance our programs, including PCA Consultants (reliability programs), the George Group/Accenture (Lean Six Sigma) and the Murli Group (lean management) as well as 3 Circle Partners. 

Initial training seeded the organization with increased skills and capabilities to lead, train, and execute. In each subsequent rollout, USG has developed the skills in-house to lead the process improvement initiatives, and today the program is fully self-sustaining.

"We have leveraged and incorporated key areas of the business into the process, utilizing the skills of our technical services and innovation center teams"

We have leveraged and incorporated key areas of the business into the process, utilizing the skills of our technical services and innovation center teams. We have also incorporated operational excellence programs into our Global Supply Chain and other corporate functions, where we have supported efforts to improve customer satisfaction with better on-time delivery and order accuracy.   

We have developed strategic measurement platforms through integrating software from Companion (Minitab), which augments learning, streamlines administration, and tracks financials.  Our finance department has been helpful in creating the standards for measuring each improvement, followed by 12 months’ post-close assessment of financial performance and auditing. Today, we have data and validated results for the last 12 years (18 years if including reliability data), reinforcing and driving reinvestment in continuous improvement within USG. 

I believe the keys to our successful programs have been:

Engaged leadership at every level

Full- time dedicated resources at the right ratio, creating significant return on investment

 A stable process that is followed each and every time

 Validated financial performance and supporting data

 Tailoring our methods to increase project speed or create the daily implementation of improvements. Many of our activities that contribute directly to the bottom line take 6-8 weeks to complete, involve improved scoping, and use tailored training to reduce waste within our own problem solving and teaching methodologies.

 During COVID-19, we have developed audit approaches that fit the operation’s capabilities, experiences, and maturity within each team’s own continuous improvement journey, recognizing that one size doesn’t fit every situation. 

 

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