Executive Steering Committee

The Executive Steering Committee (ESC) is a team designated to govern the improvement activities of special projects and initiatives. This team sets direction, engages the organization and removes roadblocks and barriers to progress.

The ESC typically has representatives from multiple functions and not a part of a formal organization chart. Within the context of operational excellence and improving performance, the ESC focuses on special projects.

What the Executive Steering Committee Does

  • Set priorities for the organization
  • Make decisions as the improvement initiative progress
  • Direct resources to make sure the work gets done

Executive Steering Committee

How the ESC Functions

The ESC meets weekly for one to two hours. The topic for the meeting is to make decisions about the ongoing work of improving operations. Several key points here:

  • Weekly meetings, not monthly.
  • Decisions are the objective of the meeting – not review and information sharing.
  • This is not a staff meeting. Improvement activities are the focus, not the emergencies and problems of the day/

The Executive Steering Committee is the most important element of any change initiative that requires input, support and consensus of multiple functions. This is the place where decisions are arbitrated and alignment is enforced. For the ESC to function well, there is a relationship between members of the committee and those doing work on the special projects. This is a highly structured process that when done well, delivers expected results. When done poorly, it becomes an ineffective exercise in bureaucracy.

Without a form of governance like the ESC, cross-functional initiatives will likely fail or at the very least deliver sub-optimal results.


To see how the Executive Steering Committee fits into the bigger picture of Operational Excellence, visit this blog post: Implementing Lean Manufacturing part 3.

Or this article: Why Leaders Don’t Pursue Employee Engagement

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