Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Executive Interview

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Executive Interview

Article excerpt

Lean Leadership: A Dialogue with Jerry Bussell

Executive Summary

Jerry Bussell is president of Bussell Lean Associates, a lean advisory service for CEOs and their executive teams. He is also executive advisor to Underwriters Laboratories' Center of Continuous Improvement and Innovation.

Jerry recently retired as vice president of operational excellence for Medtronic Surgical Technologies. Prior to this position, he was vice president of global operations at Medtronic Surgical Technologies. Jerry has more than 30 years of operations experience with high growth companies. He served as director of manufacturing operations, managing director and senior director during domestic and international plant start-ups and initial public offerings. He has worked for divisions of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Allergan Inc., and Kraft Inc.

Jerry holds a bachelor of arts from St. John Fisher College and an MBA from Baylor University. He is a founder and past chairman of the Jacksonville Lean Consortium. He serves as past chairman of the Board of Governors for the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. He has served as a trustee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the vice chairman of the Jacksonville University Athletic Association. In 2005, Jerry was inducted into the Shingo Academy for his outstanding contributions to operational excellence. He is also a member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence's Champions Club.

Jerry received the prestigious Medtronic Wallin Leadership award for transforming Medtronic ENT's traditional manufacturing operation into a nationally recognized model of lean manufacturing. Under Jerry's leadership, Medtronic ENT was recognized as one of Industry Week"?, Best Plants in North America in 2002, received the Shingo Prize in 2003, and received a Shingo Silver Medallion in 2009. In addition, Jerry is writing a book entitled Anatomy of a Lean Leader. He resides in Jacksonville, FL.

Author: Thank you so much for taking your time to speak with me today. You have won some amazing awards in the realm of operational excellence and lean manufacturing. How do you define operational excellence?

Bussell: People have different interpretations since the term operational excellence is somewhat nebulous. I was very heavily involved in the Shingo Prize for operational excellence. And what we tried to do there was work with the Shingo team to create a standard for excellence so we could understand what we're measuring ourselves against. So when I think of operational excellence, I think, first of all, of principles, and Covey has said principles are timeless, selfevident, and inarguable. Principles are things that you can anchor everything to. And then whatever you do with systems or tools, they will come back to those principles. It's really the "why" behind what you do.

The Shingo model has identified ten principles of operational excellence. It starts with customer value. You want to do the best job possible delivering value for your customer. And how you do that is you show respect for people. As a leader, you lead with humility, and you seek perfection. We're never going to achieve perfection, but we're going to shoot for it and that's how to achieve excellence. We'll show that we have quality at the source. We'll utilize lean principles like flow, i.e., we'll try to make value flow and not have waste in between. We'll embrace scientific thinking. So much of achieving excellence is being able to make sure things are going correctly and that when you have a problem, you can solve it. And that everybody across your whole enterprise is engaged in solving problems. This isn't something that a few people are doing; this is embedding it into your culture. And so you really have to focus on the process. You have to think systemically, not to fix something in one area, but see the whole. And you want to create constancy of purpose.

People want to know what the purpose is. …

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