Humility, Self-Discipline, Curiosity, Willingness and Perseverance Drive This Dynamic Professional’s Leadership Style
SVP, Operational Excellence
Denver, United States
Lisa Vincent joined Prologis recently as senior vice president, Operational Excellence, a new role that prioritizes, designs and executes continuous improvement activities and Lean methodologies across the company. Based in our Denver office, Lisa also leads the Business Enablement team—working with her colleagues to improve critical business processes and shape the company’s culture and brand. Read on to learn more.
PLD Communications Team: Tell us about your background.
Lisa: I served in the U.S. Navy for ten years, specializing in nuclear power operations, where I was stationed on an aircraft carrier (USS John C. Stennis) followed by a tour at the Naval Nuclear Training Power Command. After the Navy and finishing my MBA at The Citadel Military Academy, I transitioned into the private sector where I worked for the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as chief of staff to the CEO. GIA was embarking on a Lean transformation, so I quickly got involved in this strategic initiative and eventually led their global continuous improvement group. I then moved into the healthcare industry and worked for Atrium Health, where I most recently served as their VP of Performance Excellence, leading a group of about 40 internal Lean management consultants in support of driving this methodology across the healthcare system. I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and was a Master Training Specialist for the Navy.
PLD Communications Team: What was the impetus behind joining Prologis?
Lisa: I was interested in a new challenge and a new industry. Prologis offered an opportunity to build a Lean/Operational Excellence team from the ground up, which I found very exciting.
PLD Communications Team: How does your background inform your leadership style?
Lisa: I continuously self-reflect on humility, self-discipline, curiosity, willingness and perseverance so that I am always working toward a better version of myself. I am passionate about developing people and helping them see and think differently, which ultimately shapes behavior and culture. Most importantly, I believe that Lean is not a set of tools. It is a social and technical system that combines aspects of human behavior with tools to support continuous improvement. Tools will help you solve the problem, but process change can only be sustained through the development of all people at all levels across the organization. A Lean leader must lead with humility and respect every individual; this in turn enables a culture of people who can solve problems at the front line and are not afraid to pursue perfection. People often think that respecting every individual means being nice to them or keeping them happy. Instead, it’s about fostering an environment of safety and transparency where people feel empowered to surface problems and ideas for improvement. Respecting people is also connected with challenging how they see and think—a healthy tension (optimal anxiety) creates discomfort, which leads to growth. It is important to celebrate accomplishments while setting goals that advance an organization.
PLD Communications Team: Tell us more about how you view continuous improvement.
Lisa: Visualize a staircase. The landing is our current best practice (process), and as we make a concerted effort to observe processes, we learn why a process is either working or not working, or we see a way to make it better. This leads us to develop a new process that we must first test (scientific method) to see whether it works. If it works—great (as indicated by data). If it doesn’t, that’s OK, too. We just have to go back to the drawing board and try again until we get it right. We foster an environment where it is safe to fail. If we never try to do things differently, we will never learn anything. Creating a Lean organization means creating a learning organization.
PLD Communications Team: Customer centricity is a critical component of how we do business. How do you view this in real-time actions and approaches?
Lisa: The voice of the customer is crucial. In a Lean organization, we especially view processes from the perspective of our customers because they define value. Any processes that our customers are not willing to pay for are not valuable, and we should be doing everything possible to eliminate this type of waste from our processes. This same waste overburdens our people—yet, as their time is freed up, we have the opportunity to redeploy their efforts toward further growth and innovation while simultaneously helping them to develop additional skill sets that support their personal and professional development.
PLD Communications Team: Outside of work, what are your hobbies and passions?
Lisa: I enjoy traveling and love dogs. I am very passionate about people and leadership and enjoy spending time supporting mentees as they grow in their careers. In my last organization, I ran a Lean Leadership Development program where we brought operations leaders into our department for one-year rotations to learn Lean, as well as how to lead differently. Coaching and teaching people fills my gas tank back up and is what I really love. There is no greater feeling than when you see the ‘aha’ moment in someone’s eyes as you work with them.