LHE Is More Than Rapid Improvement Events

Before continuing with a detailed presentation of how to conduct an RIE, it is important to note that LHE is more than RIEs. Other applications of Lean principles and practices are likely to be part of a comprehensive LHE management system and can be used independently or in conjunction with the

RIE (for example, 5S may be used to organize the workspace prior to the RIE). Brief descriptions of several other applications of LHE are included below (this is not a comprehensive list, because different authors may disagree on what Lean applications comprise the full list). Readers who wish to learn more about these LHE applications can begin with the reference included in the endnote for each topic or search online for an unlimited number of books and articles, web sites, images, blogs, and more for each.

P (Production, Preparation, Process)

3P is applied when developing a new product or service, concurrently with a new process to deliver it, by engaging a cross-functional team of people who will be part of the new process. The team may be involved in one or more of the following applications of 3P: prototyping and testing what the new product or service will be; designing the physical layout of the workspace to deliver the product or service; and specifying the steps in the process to reduce waste and improve flow. For example, a university could use 3P when they decide to expand academic programs and services to non- traditional students in an effort to increase and diversify student enrollment.7

S (Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)

5S is a system for organizing and managing an effective workplace that includes five steps: Sort what is needed to accomplish work and eliminate the rest; Set In Order work materials for easy and efficient access; Shine and maintain work materials; Standardize guidelines and work area to keep everything orderly and clean; and Sustain the new standards through education and communication. 5S can be implemented independently or prior to initiating an RIE (i.e., you want to have the current process standardized and under control before studying it). Some now include Safety as a sixth step (6S). For example, each staff member of the advising office could implement 5S prior to conducting an RIE to improve the advising process for students seeking to switch majors due to academic performance issues.8

Daily Lean, 3C, Lean Stand Ups, and “Just Do It”

Daily Lean is the day-to-day work practice that enables work teams to take responsibility for managing and improving their work. The practice of Daily Lean can include visual posting of key metrics of the team’s performance, daily huddles (or Lean Stand Ups) among coworkers responsible for a process, an established approach to get a firsthand understanding and resolution to performance issues using a systematic problem-solving approach, and coaching to ensure the team follows best practices. 3C (Concern, Cause, Countermeasure; sometimes Contain, Control, and Correct) is a day-to-day problem-solving method, an adaptation of the DMAIC problem-solving approach, that can be used quickly by individuals and teams. The related practice of “Just Do It” empowers individuals or teams to make immediate changes to improve their own processes without going through a central office or RIE.9 For example, employees in the Office of Design and Construction could start their day with 15 minute daily huddles to get status updates on key projects and immediately address any problems raised.10

Lean Meetings

Lean meetings respect people’s time by eliminating waste and optimizing the flow of meeting activities. Typical steps and recommendations for conducting Lean meetings include clearly stated meeting objectives, allocated time for each agenda topic item, assigned meeting roles (e.g., facilitator, notetaker), incorporated A3 reports or visual display boards, assigned responsibility and due dates for any action items, and immediate distribution of meeting notes captured during the meeting. In addition, Lean meetings may be held ad hoc (and multiple times during the day), lasting only for the time needed to meet the objective of the meeting. For example, the Vice President for student affairs might conduct daily and ad hoc Lean meetings during the residence hall move-in to ensure sharing of critical information and to address key concerns for this critical and complicated process.11

Strategic Planning and Deployment

Lean strategic planning and deployment establishes sets of cascading multiyear objectives for employees at every level of the university that communicate what is important for success and how every employee contributes. These specific and measurable goals “roll up” from lowest to highest level to align with the strategic vision and priorities to drive deployment of the strategic plan, and visual boards publicly display progress on annual and monthly plan metrics. An “X-Matrix” provides a visual overview of the strategic plan’s long-term objectives, annual priorities, goals and metrics, and individuals accountable for implementation. Lean strategic planning strengthens organizational learning (all employees know how they contribute to the organization’s success) and helps align and motivate employee behaviors.

For example, a university with diverse and complex operations might use Lean strategic planning and deployment to help focus the commitment of resources on key institutional priorities essential for sustained success in the face of new and significant challenges.12

Structured Problem-Solving

The practice of structured problem-solving establishes a common language and systematic approach to guide an individual or group toward the best solution at that time. For simple problems, 3C (define the Concern, identify the root Cause, and implement Countermeasures to fix the problem) provides a tool for everyday problem-solving. More elaborated structured problem-solving (e.g., DMAIC: Define the problem, establish a baseline Measure of current performance, Analyze to identify root causes, identify and select best solution to /mprove the process, and embed the changes to Control the newly improved process) is used for complex and challenging problems. A large number of problem-solving tools (e.g., Pareto analysis,

Five Whys, brainstorming, prioritization matrices) can support each problemsolving approach. For example, the graduate college might use structured problem-solving after noticing that the time from admission to candidacy and completion of the doctoral degree has increased sharply.13

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total productive maintenance (TPM) trains employees to look after the equipment they operate to reduce downtime, delays, and defects. Employees can perform daily preventative maintenance, monitor the condition of the equipment between routine servicing by technicians, and alert trained technicians in advance to problems requiring adjustments, repairs, or replacement. Employees who regularly operate equipment will be the first to notice a change in the equipment and are the immediate beneficiaries of equipment that runs efficiently to support their work. TPM can apply to equipment and software that support academic offices, research laboratories, facilities and grounds, etc. For example, graduate assistants who work with cage washing equipment in the animal research facility can be trained to monitor and report unusual noises during the wash cycle so that a service technician can diagnose and fix a problem before it interrupts grant-funded research.14

 
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