Having just completed the LEAN 201 workshop and earning my LEAN White Belt I now have a greater appreciation for the LEAN methodology advocated by the Continuous Service Improvement group at BCIT and I can now see how it can be used to bring greater efficiency to process intensive workflow scenarios. If you are looking to improve a mechanical or logistical process in your work setting LEAN can definitely help solve problems and improve situations. I have also confirmed that if your work-setting is hampered by organization culture issues and you need to make changes in that culture then the Influencer model provides a much better starting point because it addresses how to bring about behavioural changes and motivate the key organizational influencers who can lead or hinder this type of change. Ideally I see how you need to use and combine LEAN, Influencer and the 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) as well as many other methodologies in your organizational change endeavours. I explain this eclectic approach in my post People who like this stuff…like this stuff.
The power of LEAN is in its simplicity. We were able to go from very minimal knowledge of the LEAN methodology to being able to recommend a very detailed solution to a real world problem in just 3 full days. While the LEAN 101 afternoon workshop I took 12 months ago as a pre-requisite exposed me to the central LEAN processes it wasn’t until we worked through an entire real life case that I full appreciated the power of this methodology. I am questioning the value of the 101 workshop because several other workshop attendees also commented on the fact that they were not really able to appreciate LEAN even at its most basic level until going through the 201 workshop.
The 201 workshop worked well because there was no need to read anything in advance, there were no special tools other than sticky notes, paper, markers and basic presentation software. Another significant factor to LEAN 201 working well was the authentic case study where we solved a genuine problem which ensured that all participants were engaged and contributed. Our group of 5 participants worked out a solution for the degree audit process that Records Officers faced on an annual basis at BCIT. We not only solved the main problems with the existing degree audit, we were also able to show how the new process could be used to address student retention and graduation issues by moving from a reactive audit at the end of the student life cycle to a proactive live and dynamic auditing process that started at the beginning of the students time at BCIT. The added benefit of this move is that students could now have an active program map of their progress. In addition, faculty, department heads, Associate Deans, Deans and other administrators could also use the live program map to catch the students who were having problems at the beginning and enabling the institution to provide solutions to these students quickly enough to get them back on track.
By the end of the second day of the workshop our group not only assessed the situation but had identified the appropriate solutions and on the third day we built a presented a summary of the degree audit solution to the main stakeholders in the Registrars Office, and to key administrators like the Assistant Registrar and the VP Academic who immediately asked what it would take to start working on the implementation of our plan. I am looking forward to seeing our plan used as a foundation for a more detailed gap analysis and the development of an implementation strategy.
We were not only able to save some valuable time for the hard working group of Records Officers, the changes will significantly improve the student experience and contribute to increasing the student retention and completion. Whenever you can help more students complete their programs and achieve their dream you know you are involved in something special.
The LEAN 201 workshop and methodology was definitely beneficial and will be added to my toolbox that I bring to future organization change challenges.