Lockheed Martin On Their Award Winning Process Excellence Program

Laura Truax

American aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin won PEX Network’s award for “Best Process Excellence Program Over 2 years” earlier this year. In this interview, Laura Truax, Enterprise Excellence Manager at the company discusses their approach to process excellence and what makes the program successful. 

PEX Network: What does your process excellence program “look” like? 

The MST Enterprise Excellence strategy applies a closed loop and an integrated set of processes, training, tools and techniques to ensure performance excellence across our business. We use direct customer and business process feedback – combined with deployed change agents and a process framework – to produce sustained, consistent results. The graphic below illustrates our approach.

 Lockheed Martin

In terms of scope, at the time of our award, our approach supported a 17,000-people organization with more than 1,000 programs across the world. Since then, our organization completed a large acquisition and additional programs and employees transitioned to our business area. As a result, our scope has grown significantly. 

PEX Network: What do you think makes your program stand out? 

Our program is particularly strong because it continues to evolve. As mentioned above, our strategy applies a closed loop approach, which incorporates direct feedback. It’s this evolutionary model that allows us to stay in touch to business needs and adjust our approach and processes to meet new demands. Over the last few years, our business has undergone a significant amount of change and this rapid pace of change will only continue in the years ahead. Since we have an evolutionary model in place for business excellence, we’ve successfully refined and adjusted our approach along the way so we remain the premier partner of our business leaders in enhancing business performance. 

What’s been the biggest point of learning during the process excellence journey at your company? 

We have two key learnings that come to mind: the first is the need to adapt our team’s language to the language of the business. Our ability to understand and communicate with business leaders using their language and by focusing on their priorities, has enabled us to become more effective as a team and garnered stronger results for the company. It’s imperative we use the terms and language that resonate with our internal partners so they understand what we can offer. This allows us to address a wide range of challenges. 

Our second key learning is that we are most successful when we provide the tools and messages that allow an employee at any level in the organization to make an improvement. We offer a broad range of tools, techniques and training to the business. Our relatively small team cannot possibly cover every activity in our business, so instead, we’ve built a community of employees who are empowered to support our process excellence journey. 

PEX Network: What did winning the award mean to you?

It was extremely gratifying to be recognized among our peers and across industries. The process of applying for and being selected as the winner, led by the Process Excellence Network, is incredibly diligent and thorough so it validates our approach and hard work. Also, there is a strong sense of community among the network and to be a partner in this community of continuous improvement is an accomplishment we’re certainly proud of. 

PEX Network: What’s next for Lockheed Martin’s process excellence program?

Our organization is undergoing a significant amount of change – we’ve nearly doubled in size after completing a large acquisition. As we progress in our integration efforts, process excellence remains a top priority for our organization. It’s a big task and we’re excited about the opportunities ahead and we continue to evolve and strengthen our approach.  By leveraging the best practices of two outstanding organizations, we expect to create an even stronger continuous improvement program that the business can count on to deliver strong results for the future. 

Additionally, we’re in the process of incorporating the learnings we achieved through participating in this award program. We’re applying feedback we received from the judging panel.  While our application received many accolades, there is certainly room for improvement so we’re considering all feedback and acting upon those areas for improvement as appropriate.