Elevate Your Path: Sarah Tilkens on Mastering Growth in Life and Business

Elevate Your Path: Sarah Tilkens on Mastering Growth in Life and Business

Published By : Cydney McCollum December 18, 2023

Elevate Your Path: Sarah Tilkens on Mastering Growth in Life and Business


Watch Episode 29 now!

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Guest: Sarah Tilkens, ACC, CPCC, SSBB. Senior Manager of Operational Excellence at GE HealthCare. Founder of The KPI Lab



Introduction and Background


Sarahs Background:

 Went to college to study biology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

 Pursued biomedical research after college. Loved scientific thinking but not the scientific field.

 Learned and loved the Lean Six Sigma way of thinking. 

 Was a construction project manager, found herself constantly analyzing and wanting to improve the way things were being done. 

 Move to GE HealthCare, started as a “Lean Leader.”  Got a blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma, and moved up to be an Operational Excellence Sr. Manager 






Journey into Operational Excellence 

The role is described as “solving problems and training problem solvers.” Sarahs mindset and passion is helping equip others with the knowledge and skills to solve problems for themselves and states that this is done by helping those people to know who they are and how they like to solve problems. Once this internal motivation is discovered and set, then the tools come after that. 

Favorite Projects 

The project was about how GE HealthCare was having an “output issue” where essentially the team had to get 100 through a machine and the outcome was 50. The research and analytics determined they did have the capability to achieve the results they wanted but the team was stumped why no one could get there. Sarah sat down with the operations team, helped them to discover the motivation that could get them to achieve this overarching goal, one person achieved the goal, and this created a ripple effect for everyone else to be able to achieve this output goal. 

The machine output was a people problem. It is important to clarify what problem you’re solving and ask yourself “why.”

The solution was talking to humans and convincing them why this is important and that it’s possible… and it stuck. You just allow people to find their own path instead of forcing a solution.

  • -Sarah Tilkens, ACC, CPCC, SSBB.

Step 1: Verify the data 

  • Capacity models, historic trends, confirmed the gap, etc. 

Step 2: “Go to the Gemba” 

  • Go and understand what’s happening and why. By going to talk to the operators, she knew she would get better information. 

Step 3: Form a hypothesis and run an experiment. 

  • Believed it might be a people problem but had to incentivize the team to work with her to scratch the hypothesis off her list. 

Starting the KPI Lab

A few years back, while working at GE HealthCare, she found herself dealing with a lot of imposter syndrome because there were so many leaders around her, and she was unsure where she stood amongst them. 

It was 2020, one month into covid, and becoming a new mom. She was searching for ways to become a leader and a mom and align the two identities to who she is as a person. 

Started working with a life coach. Helped her to get really clear on who she is. Once she understood and realigned with who she was, and how she created value, she was able to show up and lead in the ways she knows she could. The KPI Lab was born out of the desire to keep people central to the way we’re doing organizational problem solving. 

Some of The KPI Lab topics

  • Lean Methods
  • Talent Optimization
  • Problem-Solving 
  • People & Culture 
  • etc. 

Learn more at The KPI Lab

We talk about how to use people and how to do culture and there’s a lot of understanding of we need to motivate the workforce and we need to focus on culture… like how do we measure behaviors every single day that are leading indicators of long-term cultural success. So like really taking all of those things and giving companies an operating system so that they can actually do the things that they want to do, have the impact they want to have.

-Sarah Tilkens, ACC, CPCC, SSBB.

Quantitative Value of Coaching 

Benefits from The KPI Lab coaching

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased efficiency 
  • Employee retention
  • Employee advocacy 

The Perk Case Study- Impact on Executive Coaching and Learnership Training

GE Case Study | The Perk (choosetheperk.com)

Overview includes: The Perk created & implemented the Discover & Define Your Leadership Brand Coaching + Training Program

  • 6-month Custom Leadership Development Program
    • 1:1 Leadership Coaching (Bi-weekly)
    • Team Coaching (Monthly) 
    • Leadership Skills Training Workshops (Quarterly) 
    • 360 Leadership Evaluation
  • Results
    • 67% Leaders Promoted
    • Deepened Self-Awareness 
    • Increased Collaboration
    • Elevated Impact 

Lessons Learned in Continuous Improvement 

Remember what problem you are trying to solve! 

As humans, we are good at solving problems, and getting to the root cause- but the struggle is sustainment. It is hard to understand the solution if you do not know what you need.

You are already enough! 

Sarah would like to leave us with a message that it is important to keep in mind that as humans, we are already enough! The idea pushed often is that we have to have these requirements to be an expert, but to know we already have something to offer to the world. In the times that we can’t find that within ourselves, should be a time to find someone who can help you see that! Get someone else to offer you a different perspective! 

Watch Episode 29 Now 

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