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Operational Excellence and Innovation Expert

Steven J. Spear is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, and he is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. His book, The High Velocity Edge, has won numerous awards including the Philip Crosby Medal from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) in 2011.

Spear is an internationally-recognized expert about leadership, innovation, and operational excellence, and he is an authority on how select companies—in high tech and heavy industry, design and production, manufacturing and services—generate unmatchable performance by converting improvement and innovation from the rare kiss of inspiration to repeatable, broad-based, skill-based disciplines.

Spear’s research has been exceptionally well acknowledged with five Shingo Prizes and a McKinsey award from Harvard Business Review. Spear’s “Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System” and “Learning to Lead at Toyota,” are part of the lean manufacturing canon. His “Fixing Healthcare from the Inside, Today” and articles in Annals of Internal Medicine and Academic Medicine have been on the forefront in health care improvement. He has contributed to the Boston Globe and New York Times, has appeared on Bloomberg TV and radio, CBS, and elsewhere.

At MIT, Spear teaches in the Leaders for Global Operations program and in Sloan School executive education custom programs and the open enrollment course, “Creating High Velocity Organizations,” which is based on his research. Consulting clients have included well-known corporations like Intel, Lockheed Martin, Intuit, Novelis, Alcoa, and United Technologies, and he has worked hospitals such as Massachusetts General, Brigham Womens, and Memorial Sloan Kettering. At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, he is on a patient safety advisory board. He also a board member for the not-for-profit Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership and for the medical IT company Aceso.

Among other accomplishments, Spear helped the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative create its ‘Perfecting Patient Care System.’ That has been credited with eliminating horrible complications like central line infections and thereby improving care quality while reducing cost. The Alcoa Business System, which he helped design and launch, is regularly credited with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings. Other clients have dramatically compressed time and cost for marketing processes, new product development and software design.


Steven Spear Speaker Videos Back to top

Steven Spear: The High-Velocity Edge and it's Application to Healthcare


Steven Spear: Speech Excerpt


Steven Spear: Discussing Toyota's Corporate Culture



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


    Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance The Competition
    Across a broad variety of hyper competitive sectors, a few organizations simply outrun their competition. Though competing in the same markets for the same customers, offering similar products and services, reliant on the same suppliers, and subject to the same rules and regulations, they nevertheless generate more value (from the customers' perspective), in less time, with less effort, at less cost. The result is growing market share and higher margins. The resulting success pays dividends to all concerned: customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders.

    The secret to the success of these leaders is that when they face the common challenges of identifying market needs, generating product and service designs to meet those needs, and generating those offerings, they attack all the attendant uncertainty that is involved with innovation that is so organically institutionalized in their organizations that no one can match its speed, endurance, or breadth.

    Fortunately, applying institutionalized innovation across the board is not merely the realm of a few idiosyncratic inspired geniuses. Rather, it depends on core capabilities that can be taught, cultivated, practiced, and applied effectively. The workshop will:

    • Introduce the capabilities that characterize the highest velocity, most innovative organizations
    • Explore how they apply in your particular work
    • Identify what leaders need to do to cultivate and engage the capabilities
    • Develop an action plan for initial 'test of concept.'

    Health Care
    Key Points:

    • Patient Safety
    • Quality of Care
    • Better Care for More People at Less Cost
    • Improving Health Care Delivery

    Manufacturing and Industry
    Key Points:

    • Lean Manufacturing
    • Productivity and Efficiency
    • Competitiveness
    • Organizational Learning
    • Operational Excellence
    • Leadership
    • High Velocity Organizations
    • Competing in Difficult Economic Times


Steven Spear Speaker Testimonials Back to top

    Partial Client List:

    Association for Manufacturing Excellence
    Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies)
    Institute for Healthcare Improvement
    American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
    Shingo Prize Annual Conference




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    Partial Client List:

    Association for Manufacturing Excellence
    Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies)
    Institute for Healthcare Improvement
    American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
    Shingo Prize Annual Conference


    The High-Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition
    title
    How can some companies perform so well that their industry counterparts are competitors in name only? Although they operate in the same industry, serve the same market, and even use the same suppliers, these extraordinary, high-velocity organizations consistently outperform all the competition—and, more importantly, continually widen their leads.

    In The High-Velocity Edge, the reissued edition of five-time Shingo Prize winner Steven J. Spear’s critically acclaimed book Chasing the Rabbit, Spear describes what sets market-dominating companies apart and provides a detailed framework you can leverage to surge to the lead in your own industry.

    Spear examines the internal operations of dominant organizations across a wide spectrum of industries, from technology to design and from manufacturing to healthcare. While he investigates several great operational triumphs, like top-tier teaching hospitals’ fantastic improvements in quality of care, Pratt & Whitney’s competitive gains in jet engine design, and the U.S. Navy’s breakthroughs in inventing and applying nuclear propulsion, The High-Velocity Edge is not just about the adoration of success. It also takes a critical look at some of the operational missteps that have humbled even the most reputable and respected of companies and organizations. The decades-long prominence of Toyota, for example, is contrasted with the many factors leading to the automaker’s sweeping 2010 product recalls.

    Taken together, these multiple perspectives and in-depth case studies show how to:

    • Build a system of “dynamic discovery” designed to reveal operational problems and weaknesses as they arise
    • Attack and solve problems when and where they occur, converting weaknesses into strengths
    • Disseminate knowledge gained from solving local problems throughout the company as a whole
    • Create managers invested in developing everyone’s capacity to continually innovate and improve

    Whatever kind of company you operate— from technology to fi nance to healthcare— mastery of these four key capabilities will put you on the fast track to operational excellence, where you will generate faster, better results—using less capital and fewer resources.

    Apply the lessons of Steven J. Spear and gain a high-velocity edge over every competitor in your industry.
    Order Here





    Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance The Competition
    Across a broad variety of hyper competitive sectors, a few organizations simply outrun their competition. Though competing in the same markets for the same customers, offering similar products and services, reliant on the same suppliers, and subject to the same rules and regulations, they nevertheless generate more value (from the customers' perspective), in less time, with less effort, at less cost. The result is growing market share and higher margins. The resulting success pays dividends to all concerned: customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders.

    The secret to the success of these leaders is that when they face the common challenges of identifying market needs, generating product and service designs to meet those needs, and generating those offerings, they attack all the attendant uncertainty that is involved with innovation that is so organically institutionalized in their organizations that no one can match its speed, endurance, or breadth.

    Fortunately, applying institutionalized innovation across the board is not merely the realm of a few idiosyncratic inspired geniuses. Rather, it depends on core capabilities that can be taught, cultivated, practiced, and applied effectively. The workshop will:

    • Introduce the capabilities that characterize the highest velocity, most innovative organizations
    • Explore how they apply in your particular work
    • Identify what leaders need to do to cultivate and engage the capabilities
    • Develop an action plan for initial 'test of concept.'

    Health Care
    Key Points:

    • Patient Safety
    • Quality of Care
    • Better Care for More People at Less Cost
    • Improving Health Care Delivery

    Manufacturing and Industry
    Key Points:

    • Lean Manufacturing
    • Productivity and Efficiency
    • Competitiveness
    • Organizational Learning
    • Operational Excellence
    • Leadership
    • High Velocity Organizations
    • Competing in Difficult Economic Times


Steven Spear: The High-Velocity Edge and it's Application to Healthcare


Steven Spear: Speech Excerpt


Steven Spear: Discussing Toyota's Corporate Culture