The University of Washington was one of two universities that received national recognition for “best practices that have broad impact within the higher education community.”
The National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education honored the UW’s finance and facilities unit for its extensive implementation of the “Lean process,” netting a 400 percent return on investment and stimulating the contribution of 12,000 employee ideas for improvement.
Programs at the UW, along with those at the University of Virginia, were selected by a panel of presidents, leaders of universities and educational groups, for their significant impact and scalability.
The Lean Enterprise Institute has established a unit-based philosophy in which clear goals, visual management, idea systems and daily huddles are simultaneously used to improve performance and team dynamics, says LuAnn Stokke, director of operational excellence.
While process changes are important, the most significant changes occur among the individuals participating in the process, Stokke says. Teams analyze the flow of information required to complete a process or deliver a service, develop the model of an ideal information flow and work to achieve that ideal. Participation is the key to making positive changes, she says, and making those changes continuous.
The National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education represents a wide range of member institutions, with many individuals working in organizational development, quality assessment, planning and institutional improvement. Its programs promote sharing best practices and supporting professional development of individual members.