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Leading Rockwell Collins' Lean Transformation

04/19/2006 10:45 San Antonio
Clayton Jones, President and CEO, Rockwell Collins

Description: "When we began our Lean journey," recounts Clayton Jones, "it was mostly an act of faith, with doubters and cynics in every corner." Now, after 11 years engaged in a top-to-bottom streamlining process, Jones declares, "There is no single initiative I've pioneered and pushed at Rockwell Collins that has contributed more to the success of the company than Lean '" The Lean Aerospace Initiative, a research program headquartered at MIT, aims to transform the aerospace industry by applying best practices at all levels of a corporation. Jones was one of its early adopters, and now an ardent advocate. "We were one of the first to recognize the need to eliminate waste throughout the enterprise," says Jones -- from engineering to finance to human resources. Jones describes other emphases of the Lean approach at Rockwell Collins, including moving faster and more efficiently in their various operating environments. He describes how Rockwell "broke the cycle of designing solutions before the requirements were adequately captured -- a cycle that usually ends in waste and general aggravation." Educating and rallying corporate leaders to the streamlining cause was painful. Many Rockwell staff felt overworked and resistant to new methods. "We learned that heads nodding up and down didn't necessarily signify agreement with what you're teaching," says Jones. At times he wondered, "Are we bringing the organization to its knees or transforming it to the breaking point?" Jones determined that "Bend but don't break was my mantra through the whole thing." He's happy with the results to date: increases in sales from $1.7 billion in 1997 to $2.5 billion in 2005, and all time highs in product on time delivery and customer acceptance rates.

About the Speaker(s): Clayton M. Jones has been a director of Rockwell Collins since March 2001, and became Chairman of the Board June 2002. He has served as President and Chief Executive Officer since June 2001.

Jones served as Senior Vice President of Rockwell International (electronic controls and communications) and President of Rockwell Collins, Inc., then a subsidiary of Rockwell, from January 1999 to May 2001. He was Executive Vice President of Rockwell Collins, Inc. from November 1996 to January 1999.

Jones is a former Air Force fighter pilot. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University. He serves as a director of the Unisys Corporation and as a director or member of a number of professional and civic organizations.

Host(s): Sloan School of Management, Lean Aerospace Initiative

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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