Lean Tools to Determine What Benecfiiaries Value and Expect

The techniques in the previous section provide converging evidence for incorporation into the Lean tool examples below to provide clarity on the values and expectations held by different beneficiaries for the university process under review by the RIE team.

Benchmarking. Professional journals, reports from professional associations and survey organizations, and other external sources of survey or interview results may offer national or regional insights into the values expected by local beneficiaries of higher education. For example, US student responses to the National Survey of Student Engagement'8 may provide insights into what experiences students value during their university experience (e.g., academic advising) and what expectations they have about the processes that support these experiences (e.g., the availability and competency of their advisoi). The Higher Education Research Institute49 and other national organizations regularly assess faculty attitudes, experiences, and professional concerns that may shed some light on their values and expectations concerning institutional processes (e.g., self-reported levels of stress associated with institutional procedures and “red tape”). A consortium of professional organizations and societies gathered employers’ perspectives on the quality of preparation and work readiness of recent entrants to the US workforce.50 Benchmarking literature such as these may add useful information to supplement other sources on what the different beneficiaries value and expect.51

Kano Analysis. Kano analysis is a structured technique that helps identify and prioritize what beneficiaries of a process value most (in contrast to designing processes around the priorities or convenience of a university office or employees).52 Specific questions are developed to confirm the relative importance of values or priorities identified by beneficiaries to classify what they value as:

■ Dissatisfiers: Basic requirements that must be included as part of a process or beneficiaries will be dissatisfied

■ Satisfiers: Aspects of a process that are important to beneficiaries and influence their feelings of satisfaction

■ Delighters: When unexpected features of a process add value through innovation and usefulness, and this additional value impresses beneficiaries.

For example, the office of student financial aid may conduct a Kano analysis that assesses how part-time evening students (i.e., the beneficiaries) feel about extended hours for evening and weekend services. Their analyses of responses from a group of evening students might off the following insights: offering no weekday evening office hours would be a significant “Dissatisfier” for students; offering in-person weekday evening office hours two nights per week would be a “Satisfier” for students; and offering online chat and phone-in options during weekday evening office hours two nights a week would be a “Delighter” for students53

In addition, Critical to Quality (CTQ) requirements is a Lean tool that takes the value expected by beneficiaries and converts it into a metric. This metric provides a range of performance by the process deemed acceptable by beneficiaries, and CTQ requirements can be used to look upstream in the process to determine other CTQ requirements that must be met at different points for the process to deliver the value demanded. For example, focus groups with parents may determine that while they did not expect an immediate answer on their phone call concerning complex financial aid questions, they did want to hear back within 36 hours. This delivery CTQ requirement can lead to upstream CTQ requirements (e.g., the office of financial aid must assign the question to a counselor within 90 minutes, and the review of the family’s financial information must be completed within 24 hours of the call). In a similar way, Quality Function Deployment (QFD) translates qualitative expectations by beneficiaries (what they value and how important each is to them), and these are systematically contrasted with the current performance of the university process on each expectation. A QFD matrix can show those areas of misalignment between what the beneficiaries expect and what the university process delivers along the major steps of the process.


Allen dePont, the team facilitator, requested and received assistance from the Office of LHE to help conduct a series of focus groups with students, parents, and volunteers who recently participated in freshman move-in. Kano analysis was used to determine expectations each group had for the move-in process. Allen and Laurel Renny, the team leader, together interviewed the Freshman Move-In Task Force to hear firsthand their concerns and expectations. Finally, Allen and Laurel invited team members to join them on visits to other universities recognized for their freshman move-in experience.

Some Final Thoughts on Identifying What the Benecfiiaries of the Process Values and Expects

Together, the application of techniques to gather information and Lean tools to interpret the information can help the RIE team frame an initial, comprehensive statement of values and expectations that beneficiaries have for any university process, as captured in the general framework below.54

Providing Exactly What Is Wanted Adds Value. Beneficiaries of higher education often know what they want. The problem is that they rarely are asked, and when they are asked, their responses are not integrated in a way they are actionable. Data collected from beneficiaries in advance of the RIE should give clear insights into what they want rather than university providers of the process think beneficiaries want (or worse, unilaterally decide what beneficiaries need).

Delivering Service Where It Is Wanted Adds Value. The point or place of delivery of a process in higher education should be where the beneficiaries want it and not for the convenience of the university. Knowing, for example, that students would like advising services in their residence hall may be challenging for the university to deliver, but it allows the RIE team to consider this expectation from student beneficiaries when contemplating the redesign of the targeted process.

Offering Service When It Is Wanted Adds Value. Beneficiaries may have preferences for when a university process is available. These preferences may differ dramatically from times currently provided by the university (e.g., Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, excluding the lunch hour, and holidays; faculty advisors may not be available during the summer given their 9-month academic year contracts).

Not Wasting the Beneficiary’s Time Adds Value. The total experience of beneficiaries (i.e., beneficiary “episode” or “journey”) includes the amount of time they waste and the hassle they experience. Waiting on the phone, navigating through a nonintuitive electronic call transfer system, waiting in lines, accessing a networked computer, waiting to hear back from a faculty or staff member, repeatedly providing the same information to each successive phone contact, and waiting for business hours to begin are aspects of a beneficiary’s total experience which are often invisible to or ignored by the university.

Solving the Beneficiary’s Problem Completely Adds Value.

Beneficiaries value and expect processes that provide complete solutions to their needs or problems. The university process must meet all the above dimensions for it to be a complete solution: provide exactly what is wanted; deliver value where it is wanted; offer value when it is wanted; and not waste the beneficiary’s time. Falling short on one dimension negatively affects the beneficiary’s evaluation of the entire process, frustrating university employees and offices who have worked hard to do their part of the process as best as they can.

Solving the Beneficiary’s Problem Forever Adds Value. The ultimate measure of success of a university process is anticipating and resolving the needs and expectations of the beneficiaries in a single experience (e.g., a faculty member submits a course modification request that sails quickly and uneventfully through the entire curriculum review process). By solving a beneficiary’s problem completely and permanently, more of their needs and wants are met to their great satisfaction and appreciation (and saves the university time and energy).

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