Category Archives: Notable

Mont Ripley Kids Kaizen

—Written by Rylie Store, Office of Continuous Improvement

Two students in Michigan Tech’s Office of Continuous Improvement, Ari Laiho and Rylie Store, initiated a kaizen with the university’s ski hill, Mont Ripley. During the winter, Ari and Rylie also work at the ski hill as instructors.

The kaizen group identified the “current state” using a process mapping tool called swim lanes. Once the process was mapped out, the group was able to clearly see areas of waste, or inefficiencies. The team discussed each area of waste to determine its root cause and then moved forward by establishing counter measures to tackle the given waste.
After all of these improvement efforts, the hope is to have a program that flows smoothly on all levels. This would allow for flexibility to incorporate some fun days into the lessons, increasing customer satisfaction. The improvements would also promote a higher level of consistent progression of ability for each student. Next to creating a program that flows and satisfies all that are involved, the desire is to also align the program more heavily with the mission of the Professional Ski Instructors of America association by inspiring a lifelong passion for skiing and snowboarding.

Mont Ripley Kids
Mont Ripley Kids

Some of the areas addressed included:

Problem: Information that the Ripley Kids Coordinator receives from the registration forms tends to be incorrect. Solution: Define each area of the registration form so that there is a clear understanding of what is being asked.

Problem: Customers are unaware of the details of the Ripley Kids program. Solution: Host a Meet and Greet session for parents to come to the ski hill and meet the staff and receive a packet containing all of the details & FAQ’s

Problem: It’s difficult to keep track of all students at all times, or to point them out from a child skiing through general admission. Solution: Purchase helmet covers, each group will have a different color (including instructor). Vibrant, and easy to spot from a distance while promoting safety.

For more information about this or other Lean Events, please contact the Office of Continuous Improvement or visit their website at mtu.edu/improvement.


Parent Ambassador Training

Danielle Davis
Danielle Davis, Business Operations

Danielle Davis, Office Assistant for Business Operations and Michigan Tech’s representative on the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative (CCGSC), along with four other parents from the community participated in Parent Ambassador training through the Copper County Great Start Collaborative. The Parent Ambassador training provided the parents with information on the local resources and services that are available for families in the community in times of need or crisis. Part of the training included a two-day intensive Strengthening Families Framework Training that was presented by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC). This is the first time this training has been offered locally and it was free for area family service providers and parents. If interested in future training sessions, please contact the CCGSC for more information.

Participants in the Strengthening Families Framework Training learned how to integrate what they learned into existing programs, strategies, systems, and community opportunities. Strengthening Families is a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. The ECIC is focused on engaging families, programs, and communities in building protective factors into everyday life such as parental resilience, social connections, and knowledge of parenting and child development.

The newly trained Parent Ambassadors have already assisted many local families in finding resources and services in the community. The CCGSC, along with the current Parent Ambassadors will be training another group of parents in the future. If you are interested please contact the CCGSC or Danielle for more information.

Danielle also participated in the Strengthening Families Assessment with the CCGSC. The assessment helped the Great Start Parents Coalition set goals for the next year. They are currently working on “Welcome to the Community” folders that will include community resources for new employees and students with families who participate in orientation at Michigan Tech. Danielle will be adding community events to the WorkLife website in an effort to further network Michigan Tech’s community outreach and the CCGSC’s efforts to provide resources to parents in the community.


UAW Certification Program

Michigan Technological University offers its UAW employees a certification program designed to provide a professional development opportunity for those who would like to increase their skills in business and administrative applications and tasks. The program consists of four courses including; Business Communications, Microsoft Office Suite, Social Media, and a Michigan Tech specific course comprised of several department liaisons from across campus who provide an overview of and information on their areas such as Banner, Google Suite, Discoverer, and Continuous Improvement. The program was created after a conversation between President Mroz and the Gogebic President, Jim Lorenson. From there a Memo of Understanding was negotiated with the UAW to form a committee and develop a recommendation. The UAW employees were surveyed, as were a select group of UAW supervisors, to gain insight into what areas where training was needed. The committee then met with Gogebic Community College faculty to determine what courses would look like, duration, location, cost, etc. Participants come from all over campus, as all UAW employees are eligible to participate. The benefits for completing the program is the education received, a graduation certificate, and those who graduate are encouraged to add the completion to their resume.

UAW Picture of Blizzard T. Husky, MTU's mascot at graduation

In 2016, 42 UAW employees graduated from the program. For more information about this program and other professional development opportunities please visit the Human Resources website: http://www.mtu.edu/hr/


New Initiatives—Policy Biennial Review

—Ann Kitalong-Will, University Policy Office

Michigan Tech’s Policy Office maintains the University Policies and Procedures Manual, ensuring that administrative policies are developed using best practices in policy administration and are in compliance with Board of Trustees’ policy. According to Board Policy 3.2 University Administrative Policies and Procedures, all university administrative policies must be enacted, published and periodically reviewed using uniform standards and formats.

Image of a Policy Memo

To ensure that University policies are up-to-date, we have implemented a biennial (every two years) formal review process. Please note that any office may still update their policies through our office at any time; this formal review is intended to be responsive to any change in regulation or legislation impacting policies, reflect updated practices and position responsibilities, and any other specific revisions that may be deemed necessary.

This process will begin in late November and will proceed through the spring of 2018.


On the Road—Ann attends the Diversity & Inclusion Conference

Kitalong-Will PictureAnn Kitalong-Will, Executive Director for Business Operations in the Office of the Vice President for Administration, attended the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Conference and Exposition in San Francisco, October 23-25. This annual conference is sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The D&I conference provides opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices to grow a globally inclusive workplace through programs and knowledge-sharing that support employee development. Ann will be working toward enhancing Michigan Tech’s work-life initiatives by developing inclusive programming to support the University’s increasingly globally diverse employees.

Office of Information Services Website Launch

The Office of Information Services (OIS) announces the launch of its new website!

OIS serves the Vice President for Administration division in an information support role. Our key areas of expertise include Business System Analysis, IT Project Management, and Business Intelligence and Data Visualizations.

Our mission is to engage people, cultivate continuous improvement, and innovate through technology and process to enhance strategic decision making as one administration.

We partner with each business unit within the Vice President for Administration division to assist in improving our business processes through the use of innovative information systems and services. We believe in, and use in our daily work, lean methods and the tools of continuous improvement.

Dashboard Icon

We are dedicated to advancing the mission, vision, and goals of the University through effective and efficient information support services.

Visit our website to view the service catalog, common questions about dashboards and information analytics.

For further information or questions, please contact the Office of Information Services.


Facilities—ET and Internal Dashboards

In an effort to improve transparency and customer service, Michigan Technological University’s Facilities Management Department has adopted the use of online dashboards to provide answers to frequently asked questions and quick access to regular reports.  The dashboards are an opportunity to have the needed information available even when Facilities employees are not at their desks. The dashboards contain information regularly requested of Facilities Management such as project lists, Board of Trustee reports, links to master planning documents, or ones that are used and reference often within Facilities Management. A version of a dashboard was created several years ago by the previous interim director – before moving to a cloud-based solution. The goal behind creating these dashboards was to be able to find the items that customers and employees were looking for on frequent basis. This system allows people to find answers wherever they are, without having to wait for a response from someone in the office at the time of the request. This cloud-based solution allows for instant information updates and excellent customer service to all members of the campus community.

Facilities Internal Dashboard

For more information on dashboards and how they can help your department, please contact the Office of Information Services at 906-487-2129 or visit their website at mtu.edu/ois.


On the Road—Colin Neese

Colin NeeseColin Neese, Business Systems Analyst for the Office of Information Services, under the Vice President for Administration, attended the 10th Annual Tableau Conference in Las Vegas held October 9th through the 12th. Tableau is a data analytics and visualization company dedicated to transforming how people use data to solve problems. Over two hundred unique breakout sessions were offered at the annual conference in addition to hands on training sessions presented by Tableau Employees and sponsored partners. Colin will be working to enhance existing Vice President for Administration dashboards and developing new visualizations using best practices and training received at this conference.


Safety Topic—Active Shooter Training

Police officer with students

Business Operations and the Office of Information Services received hands-on active shooter training from Public Safety. The training was on the 5th Floor of the Huntington National Bank Building where the offices are housed. The training focused on customizing a response plan that could be executed in the office’s daily location in the event of an active shooter threat. After the training, our staff developed and recorded the customized active shooter response plan for the staff and students who work on the floor. The plan includes three different threat scenarios: “Get Out,” “Lock Out,” and “Take Out.” The “Get Out” plan involves everyone on the floor safely leaving the building and meeting up in a safe place. For the “Lock Out” plan, the offices are creating a “goBag” in case those on the floor need supplies while they wait out the threat and are in a safe, barricaded place to do so. The “Take Out” plan is only used in the event that those on the floor cannot use the “Get Out” or “Lock Out” options. When the students who work in the offices come back this fall, there will be a training on what the new response plans are in order to ensure everyone understands the plan and that it’s easy to follow.

Having these plans in place and regularly practiced will give the staff and student employees an set of instructions in-case of an active shooter on the floor or in the building.


Lean Focus—Social Media Planning Board

In an effort to organize and streamline the process of planning out social media posts, Andi Barajas in Business Operations has assigned common categories specific sticky-note shapes and colors. There are several categories that articles, blog posts, and social media posts fall into, such as “Points of Pride,” “Safety,” “Lean,” “Worklife,” “Staff/Student Spotlight,” and “Miscellaneous.” Andi has assigned each of these categories a specific shape and color sticky-note, for example, “Points of Pride” are represented by a pink heart. When an article, blog post, or social media post is needed, the title is written down on a sticky-note that corresponds to the category that the subject falls under. They sticky-note is added to the “To do” column of the Kanban board and at the end of the day the sticky-note is moved to the appropriate column that indicates where it is in the creation process.

Social Media Calendar
Photo of The Social Media Scheduling Calendar

After the post has moved down the Kanban board past the “Gather Information” phase, the “Find a Photo” phase, the “Write Post” phase, and has been reviewed by a staff member, the post is ready to publish, and the sticky-note gets taken off of the creation Kanban board and moved to a space on the social media scheduling calendar that represents what day that post will be published online. Using the various colors and shapes of the sticky-notes helps to quickly identify what category is going to be published that day. It also makes it easy to find a pattern in the categories of posts that have been created and allows for easy future planning and for consistently publishing a variety of subjects in an organized way.
Andi is happy with the Kanban board and scheduling calendar so far, and is excited to continue to improve her process in the future.