Ron Crabtree, Founder, CEO and Executive Talent Architect
What makes businesses with a proven track record of consistent, long-term growth different from the thousands that fall by the wayside or are gobbled up by competitors? A recent Harvard Business Review report indicates that operational excellence—the concept of continuous improvement and reliable growth—is the bedrock of long-term success. Operational excellence is not just about reducing costs or increasing productivity in the workplace. It involves setting an organization up for growth by understanding the market needs and creating an uninterrupted value stream that always feeds the need, even if it changes.
However, achieving operational excellence (OpEx) is not a ‘walk in the park,’ especially for firms in the manufacturing sector. Industry reports reveal that only 36 percent of the companies manage to accomplish it. The prime reason behind this is talent shortage. U.S. manufacturers and supply chain operators alike are struggling to find qualified knowledge workers with critical thinking and problem-solving skills capable of mastering advanced technologies, working in a highly collaborative team environment, and adapting to the ever-changing landscape. To make it easier for businesses to identify interim, project-based and contract-to-hire talent that best fit their requirements, MetaOps, a Mattawan, MI-based firm has created MetaExpertsTM, an on-demand top talent workforce. MetaExperts are operational excellence talent and interim executives that guide organizations in implementing innovative solutions for difficult business problems in areas of business process improvement, operational excellence, quality, Lean Six Sigma, Design of Experiments (DOE), continuous improvement, and more. Ron Crabtree, founder, CEO, and executive talent architect, MetaOps, says, “We provide expert, high-level “get it done talent” that organizations require ‘where, when, and for’ as long as they need; whether it is for only a week, a month, or six months. With MetaExperts, manufacturers do not have to worry about lingering overhead or wait to find the right person to achieve the desired outcomes.”
Creating Value for the Customer
Whether a manufacturer’s supply chain costs are out of control, the operations need to be more responsive and agile, or they lack experts to drive mission-critical strategies, MetaOps has a MetaExpert to help fix it, fast. “We are dedicated to helping tangible goods firms solve their most difficult business problems by ‘plugging in’ to their team to get things done—on demand,” adds Kim Crabtree, president and marketing director of MetaOps. Be it a firm looking to roll out a major lean manufacturing program and needs someone to infuse instant leadership, or is working on program management on a large-scale improvement effort and requires an expert to map out processes or create an improvement roadmap, MetaOps has it covered.
The diverse clientele MetaOps caters to can be split into three categories: the first group consists of privately-owned or publicly-traded organizations that are looking for support in their strategic initiatives. The second group comprises private equity-owned and driven organizations that seek operational talent to solve difficult challenges and get their performance up to where it needs to be. And, the third group of customers includes consulting companies that require help with executing large scale projects but don’t want to hire new people. Depending on the situation, MetaExperts help organizations when they have an urgent initiative to move things along; when they encounter a difficult technical challenge and are not able to break through on their performance in a particular area; “and, lastly, while they are looking to start a major Lean Six Sigma initiative but lack the skills to get it started. Our MetaExperts offer flexibility and scalability no matter the level of support a firm needs,” states Ron.
‘An Extension of Your Business’
Highlighting the process behind MetaOps’ approach to solving customer needs, Ron informs, “We call it our 47+ customer alignment process where we match a MetaExpert with the client.
It is a seven-step process that begins with understanding what the customer is trying to solve, the nature of the challenge, and the difficulty level.” Through the process, MetaOps learns the needs of the customers on every level, their goals, the kinds of roles and abilities interim talent needs to bring. From there, the team carefully works its way through identifying the perfect MetaExpert that can help the customer drive the results they are looking for with their budget. The MetaExpert is adept and proficient at everything ranging from quality and Six Sigma, lean best practices, project management and change management to supply chain. Ron enthuses that they are the best-of-the-best across a wide array of operational excellence knowledge, skills, and methodologies. The MetaExpert creates a statement of work and a detailed understanding of what the customer needs to accomplish with metrics, measures, and controls. Once the engagement is underway, MetaOps conduct regular weekly quality reviews with the customer to ensure progress and provide coaching access to MetaOps’ knowledge base. “It is something no staffing or recruiting company can do like we can,” asserts Ron.
We are dedicated to helping tangible goods firms solve their most difficult business problems by ‘plugging in’ to their team to get things done—on demand
An Effective Alternative to Traditional Consulting Another notable aspect of MetaOps is the approach it follows to identify top talent. “OpEx experts become MetaExperts only by invitation. Less than five percent of candidates considered ultimately become a MetaExpert. The contenders, once invited submit to a rigorous 300+ evaluations and screening process in order to be called a MetaExpert,” explains Kim. In this extensive vetting process, the firm evaluates each candidate on their skills, core values, character, thinking capabilities, and other vital characteristics. This is then followed by aligning the MetaExpert with the customer’s needs and ensuring that the individual is a perfect fit on every level. MetaOps continues to offer ongoing support throughout the duration of a project to ensure stellar performance, triumphant results, and end-toend accountability.
What’s more? MetaOps can also scale MetaExperts’ support to fit any size project, any type of business, anywhere in the world. “Our vetting process enables us to ensure that manufacturers only work with top talent that fits the customer’s culture and language,” adds Ron. Many companies can spend over six to twelve months looking for the right OpEx talent and another eighteen months getting them on board and up to speed only to discover they aren’t the right fit. MetaOps’ one-of-kind process of providing elite OpEx talent eliminates that problem in days versus months. Besides, in unprecedented situations like the current pandemic affected world, where finding the right talent is more complicated than before, MetaOps serves as a boon for businesses. “Our company has been founded on the ‘voice of the customer’ and the ‘voice of the market.’ We know exactly how to filter through those that think they know OpEx and those that are actually skilled. We do not position ourselves as a staffing or recruiting organization; rather we are a strategic partner for operational talent,” says Kim. The firm has a massive knowledge base and a vast library of training templates, case studies with success stories that customers can tap into.
Instilling a Culture of Quality Improvement
Over the last 19 years, MetaOps has collaborated with many manufacturers to make OpEx an integral part of the success and culture of its customers. Recalling a recent instance, Kim cites the story of a major food products organization. The customer needed to completely modernize all of their kitchen equipment and integrate Lean Six Sigma best practices into their processes. MetaOps provided the customer with a MetaExpert who had immense experience and background in engineering and Lean Six Sigma. Serving as a program manager, the MetaExpert implemented the new technology at the customer’s organization and offered technical assistance and training.
Alongside, the MetaExpert worked with the operators, maintenance personnel, and supervisors to instill and implement Lean Six Sigma best practices to reduce waste, improve the first time quality capability, and bring down the overall costs. “It was a 12-week engagement, and the customer was very successful in achieving their target. They were on time for the deployment and were able to achieve the performance levels and results they desired,” asserts Ron.
“We provide expert, high-level “get it done talent” that organizations require ‘where, when, and for’ as long as they need; whether it is for only a week, a month, or six months”
Organizational Excellence for All
Notably, MetaOps’ dedication and mission to help businesses in need stem from its leadership teams’ purpose-driven commitment to becoming ‘The Leader’ for top operational talent. In fact, the core team’s combined experience in different fields of business plays a significant role in the MetaOps’ evolution. Ron, alone, has over 30 years of experience in implementing Lean, Six Sigma, and other “best practice” methodologies as both an insider and as a consultant in many industries, including insurance and financial services, state and local government, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, repair operations, printing, consumer goods, and distribution/retailing. In fact, he is an internationally recognized expert in leading-edge business process improvement methodologies and a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, a certified supply chain transformation architect, and also an expert in effective change management. Ron is also the author and architect of the TOP Facilitator Program that provides the skills needed for change agents and leaders charged with facilitating organizational transformation. Kim, on the other hand, is a seasoned professional with more than two decades of experience in progressively responsible roles in business, marketing, sales, and customer relationship management in a variety of business sectors. Kim, who also has a background in publishing, is an author and a public speaker who demonstrates superior skills in coaching both large and small businesses. She is also the creator of the MetaOps Operationalized Marketing Kaizen program. “While Ron was working on creating a positive workplace and culture for our organization, I helped develop a great outside perception,” states Kim. “We’re all about ‘getting it done.’” Besides, instilled at the heart of MetaOps are its core values: CARES, which stands for being Customer-focused, Attending to the voice of the market, ensuring Results and Return on investment, being the Experts, and ensuring Sustainability.
Today, bolstered by strategic partnerships and many success stories, the firm has established a strong presence in the manufacturing landscape. For the road ahead, MetaOps has several plans. On one side, the company continues to offer thought leadership support on the digitalization transformation of the workplace, combined with Lean Six Sigma best practices. On the other, with remote working becoming the norm, the firm is rethinking its approach toward communicating and collaboration. “We are investing in our ability to deliver services virtually. For any occasion, MetaExperts will be able to provide the flexibility for virtual or hands-on technical and leadership expertise to solve the most difficult business problems,” remarks Ron. MetaOps is also actively engaging in international partnerships to provide geographical coverage for talent in more than 30 countries around the world and is looking forward to accelerated growth in 2021.
In an increasingly digital world, only by taking an incremental and integrative approach to operational excellence will manufacturers be able to adapt to new emerging technologies and ensure that the right systems, processes, and capabilities are in place to capitalize on the opportunities the digital era delivers. “Combining our focus on continuous improvement and production capabilities, we will continue to offer the upper hand manufacturing companies need to compete,” wraps up Ron.