St. Jerome University's Lean journey

St. Jerome's Lean journey

Darren Becks, Vice President, Administration, and Kierra Cali, Human Resources and Operations Generalist, describe St. Jerome's experience using Lean.

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How have you been using Lean at SJU? (What tools, for what purpose, etc.)

St. Jerome’s University’s Lean journey was born as a product of our team’s exposure and learning from the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) construction process utilized by the University in our recent campus renewal build where Lean principles were foundational. Lean principles became the building blocks as we ventured to explore what Lean would look like in our everyday operations.

Firstly, Lean at SJU is approached not solely as a suite of tools but as a shift in team culture and behaviour. This shift has been realized through a focus on:

  • Asking ourselves questions about inefficiency to identify wasteful activity throughout our common processes, practices and everyday activities.

  • A commitment to real change in how we operate, our approaches, and our methodology as a whole that spans beyond distinct changes in processes.

  • Improved collaboration where the right people are brought together from the start to build a project through collaboratively established collective objectives to break down silos among departments.

Through workshops, Kaizen events, and shared learning our team has begun to build a firm understanding  of Lean principles and methodology, building all team’ capacity at all levels of the University, to continually seek and apply Lean in various aspects of their positions.

Our Team has been exposed to many tools and Lean methods such as 5S, A3s, Value Stream Mapping, 5Whys Root Cause Analysis, Choosing By Advantages, and Gemba Walks.

We have utilized Lean within the University to embark on multiple process improvements.

What have been the benefits of using Lean?

  • Employing Lean within our operations has increased our team’s engagement and has placed a new emphasis on collaboration.
  • We have a common language for identified process improvements and collaboration that is focused on conversations about value adds and intentional change that targets waste reduction.
  • We have experienced a shift in perspective where the common question asked is “is this really the best way to complete this task?” leading to conversations about waste, value and flow.
  • Departments have embraced continuous improvement and have explored numerous small wins where they have seen incremental improvements in resource utilization and enhanced flow within their processes and activities.
  • Focus on measurement and reporting to identify change and to communicate/celebrate improvements and encourage continued enhancements.
  • Some of the wins we have celebrated include:
    • Decrease in the number of over stock and inventory excess within our facilities workshops
    • Decrease in Accounting errors
    • Increase in process time within numerous operations departments
    • $47 million campus renewal project on budget, ahead of schedule with $2 million in value additions realized through IPD elements of efficiency and process improvements

What recommendations would you have for others interested in getting started with Lean?

  • Focus on Lean culture not tools
  • Focus on waste identification – Challenge your status quo
  • Target the development and empowerment of your front line staff first
  • Small wins. Don’t bite off more than your team is ready for

Please contact Kimberley Snage for any questions.