Spotlight #4: Transformation at Owens-Illinois

Many companies seek to transform themselves through Lean Six Sigma, often responding to a crisis or a specific need. Not so with Owens-Illinois (O-I). It was already a global leader in its industry; well-respected and financially stable, with roots reaching back more than a century when it looked to Lean Six Sigma for help.

While the company had a long history of firsts in the glass industry, and invested heavily in continuous improvement in its manufacturing processes, a new CEO recognized the potential that Lean Six Sigma could bring. Al Stroucken had experienced the operational gains brought by Lean Six Sigma at his previous company, and knew it could move the organization to a new level of performance.

The company had grown extensively through acquisitions around the globe. By 2006, when Stroucken came onboard, it was an amalgam of independent business practices and cultures. Engineering and manufacturing leaders were trying to drive consistency in manufacturing processes across the globe. Best practices were prevalent throughout the company, but deploying them inconsistently meant lost opportunity in productivity and profitability. O-I needed to become more process oriented, establish a common language across all units and geographies, and enhance analytical and execution capabilities. "We're a world leader in our industry, but we've operated like many individual companies around the globe—not taking advantage of our size and scale," ...

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