Lean Six Sigma Applied to Universities

By Harry Rever – Director of Six Sigma, International Institute for Learning

Can Lean Six Sigma be applied to higher education? To colleges and universities throughout the world?

Sure it can. After all, higher education is a business and every business has processes and key metrics, right? The fundamental purpose of Lean Six Sigma is to improve processes and key measures of a business.

Edwards Deming, the famous quality guru, said it best with the quote below:

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Whether the industry is finance, telecom, healthcare, or higher education, businesses have processes and if the goal is to improve those processes, to have measureable and sustainable improvement, then the proper application of Lean Six Sigma and the DMAIC steps (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) is the best way to improve results.

Examples of University Processes and Key Metrics

Think about all of the different departments within a university. There are numerous staffs, help desks, support systems, and processes within the university system. Each department, whether it is the medical school, the recruiting office, or the IT support group has processes that most likely need to be improved. The opportunities to apply Lean Six Sigma in a university setting are almost limitless.

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International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL) is a global leader in training, consulting, coaching and customized course development. Our commitment to improving organizational performance with Intelligence, Integrity and Innovation has made us a trusted learning partner to thousands of global companies – in more than 150 countries and for over 25 years.

Harry Rever is IIL’s Director of Six Sigma. He is a dynamic presenter and practitioner of Six Sigma and Project Management with an innate ability to teach the concepts of quality improvement in an understandable and more importantly, applicable manner. With over twenty-five years as a project manager, process improvement consultant and trainer, Harry has numerous examples of what works (and what doesn’t) when managing projects and applying statistical process improvement concepts.


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