University of Michigan (United States)

Contributed by Krista Schulte

The University of Michigan (U-M; is an internationally recognized public university in Ann Arbor, Michigan enrolling approximately 45,000 students on the Ann Arbor campus. U-M includes numerous graduate and professional programs, an extensive research mission, and a world-class academic medical center and health system. Michigan Medicine (formerly University of Michigan Health System) has had an active Lean program for approximately 10 years. When the CEO of Michigan Medicine served as interim CFO at U-M, he promoted the introduction of Lean in the Business & Finance group (i.e., Facilities & Operations, HR, Shared Services, Investments, and Finance including more than 2,500 staff members). As part of this effort, in early 2015, he hired an experienced Lean practitioner from the private sector to lead a series of pilot projects across the organization. While successful, the strategic decision was made to focus on developing staff as problem solvers who could then apply Lean thinking skills to issues they encountered in their daily work on an ongoing basis (rather than using the experienced Lean practitioner to conduct isolated RIEs to benefit individual teams). Effort has since focused on large-scale training plus mentoring experiences to transform staff into Lean thinkers who are able to tackle improvements at all levels. This Lean in Daily Work (LDW) initiative developed a cohort of 6-10 teams over a 4-month experience that included training modules totaling 16 hours of classroom learning, biweekly mentoring, and practice in Lean methods. A Lean “model area” was developed in the University’s Shared Services Center (SSC) to create an exemplar of how LDW is implemented; other units across campus can visit and observe LDW in action and see how this initiative might be extended to their own units. The SSC provides support services (over 20 HR and financial service offerings with over 1,000,000 annual transactions) to all academic and nonacademic units, demonstrating practical opportunities to transfer Lean principles and practices to all areas. To date, 32 teams have completed the LDW program. Each team developed visual display boards with the goal of managing and improving their work. Each SSC team had great autonomy in designing and organizing their visual display board, but all boards were required to have five components: (1) clearly identified and measureable metrics of performance; (2) up-to-date visual display of the team’s performance on the metrics; (3) an area to capture and manage improvement ideas, which were referred to as “Everyday Lean Ideas,” with no requirement on how many or how few ideas are present; (4) daily huddles to review the status of the visual display board, with rotating facilitators and scribes that lead the huddle to build leadership skills; and (5) leadership walks, where leaders of the SSC teams visit and engage the visual display boards (the team supervisor participates in the daily huddles; the next level up typically reviews the board on a biweekly basis; and the next level up reviews the board monthly).11 In addition, there are some limited additional opportunities for

University employees to participate in Lean training and events sponsored by the Michigan Medicine Performance Improvement group.

Although in its early stages, the application of LDW is already showing very promising signs of success: In the first quarter of fiscal year 2018, the SSC removed $62K in waste, saved $46K for their customers, and absorbed $13K in additional work. Individual colleges have observed the benefits of “Lean in Daily Work” and have begun to express interest in establishing this Lean initiative within their own operations. SSC Team members report that the use of LDW has helped them understand their roles at the university and take responsibility for improving their work; for example, the visual display boards enriched communication among team members and with their supervisors, and SSC teams now had the autonomy and control to implement improvements on a regular basis. Finally, Everyday Lean Ideas are linked to important team metrics to improve their performance and contributions to the mission of the LJ-M. Overall, the LDW initiative reminds us that LHE is broader than the more traditional RIE approach.

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