During 2018, the University of Waterloo began to ramp up continuous improvement (CI) initiatives which began in 2015 when Waterloo hosted the international Lean in Higher Education Conference.
More than 850 employees attended CI events on campus in 2018, with representation across 54 departments. Throughout the year, employees were introduced to CI tools and methodologies, such as process mapping and Kanban Boards. They were given practical advice on how to tackle problems and improve processes within their own departments.
February: Lean in Higher Education Seminar
In February, the University of Waterloo hosted a Lean in higher education seminar with representatives from other Canadian universities, including McMaster, Wilfrid Laurier, Ryerson and York. During this seminar, there were continuous-improvement themed discussions, presentations from Waterloo CI leaders, and a guest speaker, Dr. Justyna Maciag, a researcher from the Institute of Public Affairs at Jagiellonian University, Poland who is evaluating Lean culture in higher education.
April: Waterloo Staff Conference Problem Solving Workshop
The Staff Conference workshop, led by Kimberley Snage, Director HR Projects, Technology & Analytics and Scott Smith from High Performance Solutions and Consortium, provided an introduction to CI methodologies, including the benefits to higher education. Staff who attended were led through a practical exercise that allowed them to work in small groups and use Lean tools to assess and solve a problem.
May: Lean Seminar and Projects Fair
In May, Human Resources hosted a Lean seminar, led by Karyn Ross, co-author of The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations. There was also a projects fair attended by more than 100 employees who viewed information and discussed CI initiatives across different departments on campus, including the Sustainability Office, Plant Operations, Housing and Residence, Office of the Provost, Human Resources, IST, Registrar’s Office, St. Jerome’s, and the Library.
June: Lean Process Map Workshop
The Lean process map workshop, led by Shona Dunseith, HR Process Manager, took employees through practical steps that would allow them to improve processes and reduce inefficiencies in their own departments. Processes were mapped out visually, so that it became easier to see discrepancies and identify inefficiencies or wastes.
October: Kanban Workshop
The Kanban Workshop held for employees in October, was one of the most popular CI events of the year. Human Resources partnered with Kierra Cali, Operations Project Manager at St. Jerome’s University to teach over 70 employees how to build and use a personal Kanban board to organize their work and improve efficiency.
November: Risk Mitigation Through Lean Presentation
Representatives from the University of Waterloo (Kimberley Snage, Director of HR Projects, Technology and Analytics and Kim Gingerich, Executive Officer, Academic – Provost Office) led a plenary session on using lean to address institutional risk at the 2018 Lean in Higher Education Conference in Norway. The session focused on processes that can help organizations identify risks and plan for the future.
The 2018 events and workshops contributed to the University’s over-arching goal of nurturing a continuous improvement culture across campus. Plans to provide further opportunities for continuous improvement to Waterloo employees throughout 2019 are currently underway. If you have any questions about Lean at Waterloo, please contact Marilyn Thompson, Associate Provost, Human Resources, Kenton Needham, Executive Director, Human Resources, or Kimberley Snage, Director, HR Projects, Technology & Analytics. For more information about the network of universities advancing Lean internationally, you can visit www.leanhe.org.