Conducting, Implementing, and Sustaining the Rapid Improvement Event

Conducting, implementing, and sustaining the Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) encompasses a broad set of activities where the RIE team, led by a skilled and experienced team facilitator, learns to see, diagnose, and improve the process targeted for improvement and prepares a clear plan for implementing and sustaining the improvement. Variations in conducting an RIE (e.g., immersive 3-day events, shorter weekly meetings for a semester) were discussed in Chapter 5. Here, the immersive weeklong RIE is used as the framework for this chapter. Table 6.1 provides a quick visual summary of the 5-day RIE. Each day begins with an overview for the day and ends with a “toll gate” review (e.g., “check-up before you get up”) to summarize progress, address any team-related issues, request additional information or consultation with campus experts, etc. Alternate variations for conducting RIEs would typically follow the basic ordering of activities described below.

Day One: Learning

Validate RIE Preparation Tasks

Day One of the RIE typically opens with a welcome and charge by the Lean Higher Education (LHE) Sponsor and/or senior university leaders followed by team member (re)introductions (and occasionally an “icebreaker” exercise

Table 6.1 Five-Day Rapid Improvement Event: Summary of Activities

RIE Calendar

Primary RIE Activities

Day One: Learning

Validate RIE preparation tasks Overview of the RIE and LHE

Review baseline performance of "current state" process Document visual map of "current state" process

Day Two: Discovery

Understanding waste and impediments to flow Analysis of "current state" process Develop improvement ideas Prioritize improvement solutions

Day Three: Improvement

Propose "future state" process map

Test and verify the proposed "future state" process

Day Four: Finalizing Process Design

Finalize visual map of "future state" process Establish implementation plan for "future state" process

Day Five: Planned Implementation

Confirm accountabilities for implementing "future state" process

Identify post-implementation activities to sustain "future state" process "Report Out" by RIE team

led by the facilitator).1 In most situations, several tasks were started or completed in preparation for the RIE, including a team charter (which may include information on the scope of RIE process, documentation of what the beneficiaries of the process value and expect, and metrics for measuring the benefits of the RIE), ground rules for team members during the RIE, training, etc. (see Chapter 5). These tasks should be reviewed with the team for understanding and modified as appropriate to receive the consensus endorsement of the team. In some cases, these tasks will be started and completed on Day One of the RIE. Time and logistics permitting, the team might visit the office(s) where the process targeted for the RIE takes place if this has not already occurred.

Overview of the RIE and LHE

The facilitator should provide the team with a general overview of the 5-day RIE and communicate the objectives that are to be completed by the end of the week (i.e., information outlined in Table 6.1). Logistical information relevant to a successful RIE experience (e.g., working lunches with meals provided; 20-minute break each day for reading and responding to emails) should also be shared. If training has not been completed by team members prior to the RIE, the facilitator (or a LHE trainer) should provide a general overview of LHE.2

Review Baseline Performance of “Current State” Process

The facilitator should lead the team through a full discussion of the baseline performance of the process targeted for improvement. This information on the current performance of the process might include quantitative “high-level” overview of the process drawn from the SIPOC chart or other scoping materials, tables or charts of information gathered about the process (e.g., a histogram of the lead time needed to complete the process based on a sample of 100 measurements, a Pareto Chart documenting the frequency of the most common complaints received over the past 3 months), and tables or charts that document current performance of the process on those metrics selected to measure the benefits of the process (e.g., quality, operational delivery, employee experience and engagement, and financial and business performance metrics). Qualitative measures might also be shared to supplement and enrich the information gleaned from the quantitative measures. For example, sharing verbatim comments from a Kano analysis or focus group sessions with beneficiaries provides a richer context for the RIE team’s work (e.g., faculty candidate Rick Smith: “I applied for your faculty position over 3 months ago and never heard anything; I assumed you were either very slow or very rude and decided your university wasn’t the place for me.”). The review of baseline performance may raise alternative insights or interpretations of the information, and the team may request additional available information to help them more fully understand the performance of the process in its current or “as-is” state.

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