Columbia Business School’s W. Edwards Deming Center for Quality, Productivity, and Competitiveness recognized the winners of the third annual Deming Cup at a dinner reception on campus on Tuesday, October 23.
This year, the Deming Center awarded the Cup to two recipients — Terry J. Lundgren, chair, president, and CEO of Macy’s, Inc., and Ratan N. Tata, chair of Tata Sons Limited. Lundgren was recognized for effectively navigating Macy’s through periods of profound change, including nearly doubling the size of the retailer through acquisitions and implementing a fundamental reorganization of its operating structure. Tata was honored for his instrumental role in transforming a family business from an Indian conglomerate into a global organization.
University Provost John Coatsworth welcomed participants to the event in his introductory remarks and stated, “The Deming Cup has become the Pulitzer Prize of operational excellence.” Meyer Feldberg, who is dean emeritus of the School, senior advisor at Morgan Stanley, and sits on Macy’s board, explained how Lundgren has led the company to a level of consistent growth that places it as one of the best performers among nationwide retailers.
“Lundgren is a role model for his company and the industry, serving as a true leader in continuous improvement and operational excellence, the Deming Center’s area of focus,” said Feldberg, who introduced Lundgren with Kevin Burke, chair, president, and CEO of Consolidated Edison, Inc. “Under his leadership and through his focus on the customer and dedication to innovation, talent development, and operational excellence, Macy’s has grown profitably in the intensely competitive retail industry, even as the industry faced significant challenges following the recent economic downturn.”
Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, who introduced Ratan Tata alongside Klaus Kleinfeld, chair and CEO of Alcoa Inc., pointed out that Tata has successfully guided multiple companies, including Tata Motors and Alcoa, to business excellence in both India and globally by leveraging the principles of W. Edwards Deming. “Ratan is a rare kind of leader — just as he is deeply committed to performance and operational excellence, he lives the important values of integrity, respect, and continuous learning,” Kleinfeld said. “All of these qualities are rooted in everything Ratan does. This unique combination of attributes is precisely what is needed in today’s global business climate.”
The Deming Cup grew from the center’s drive to highlight the achievements of practitioners who adhere to and promote excellence in operations, the Deming Center’s area of focus. This award is given annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the area of operations and have established a culture of continuous improvement within their respective organizations.