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OM in the News: Lean Experiences at the University of Dayton

January 7, 2014

daytonOM tactics to improve efficiency and work quality with roots on shop floors and assembly lines are paying dividends on the business side of serving students, writes the University of Dayton News (Dec.16, 2013). For example, using Lean Six Sigma activities, the bookstore reduced the number of new textbook returns by 5%, freeing staff to focus more on customers. Dining services consolidated salad prep and now is able to serve more locations. Other areas around campus have saved on printing costs by using reusable printer cartridges and consolidating printers and copiers. “Our students are at the heart of what we do. We want to relentlessly focus on improving their experiences,” says UD’s Finance VP.

“Lean Six Sigma is a never-ending process of improvement activities within an organization,” adds the director of UD’s School of Engineering’s Center for Competitive Change. “Through Lean Six Sigma activities, organizations adopt a philosophy of engaging employees and using data to solve problems. The entire focus is on customers. This can be used in our business operations.” There are more areas for improvement, he points out. “For example, how can we make better use of our time? Can we cut down on the number of forms we can use for hiring? Do we need 18 local access networks for computers systems? If we can use 2 people for a job, instead of 4, how do we better use the other 2 to be more productive in another area?”

The University rolled out the initiative in the bookstore, dining services and facilities management in July. It hopes to expand into 40 areas this semester and to reach a total of 200, with UD students working with each area. Through the projects and completion of the UD’s Six Sigma green belt class, they will earn their industry Six Sigma certification. The overall goal is a 10% improvement in the quality of delivering products and services to students.

Examples of lean in academic settings are not common, and this is one worth sharing with your students.

Classroom discussion questions:

1. What ideas do you have for improving processes on your campus?

2. Why aren’t lean concepts more widely applied on campus?

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