Tag Archives: Lean

Continuous Improvement: Tips to Success

Establish an enduring culture

A leadership team who embrace change and are adaptable is critical. Similarly having a team who are resilient can also pay dividends. It’s also important to gauge the impact of any improvement work on the overall culture of the organization.

Lean MeetingGet feedback from all concerned

Be open to suggestions and take on-board feedback that has been given. Also remove blame from the equation, and allow for an open discussion.


First Friday Social Event Management Kaizen

Auxiliaries Services facilitated a Lean event to apply a Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle to the way departments within Michigan Tech coordinate events, specifically, the First Friday Socials that many departments have participated in over the years.
Picture of Blizzard T. Husky with a fan at the Skybox Social.
Picture of Blizzard T. Husky with a fan at the Skybox Social.
Before the Continuous Improvement team applied Lean thinking to the event management process, they found that different departments were hosting similar events with unique needs. The hosting departments had to secure the services they needed to execute their event using multiple on and off campus resources. The team also found that some departments are experienced with planning events while others have little to no experience.
The team’s target state for after the event is to establish a one-stop shop for the customer to contact for all event needs. The problem the team had to tackle was the lack of a centralized location for departments to contact to gain all of the services they need to host a First Friday Social.
To solve this problem and find waste and root causes the team created a process map. This showed the breakdown of what the customer was required to do and what the MUB and Dining Services had been helping with. They brought in outside eyes and assembled a team from multiple departments on campus. After this exercise, they noticed that the customer had an excess of responsibilities and there was a gap where an Event Management Team could help to streamline and error proof the planning the process.
The team decided to breakdown the event planning process into a timeline and then a flow chart and a corresponding checklist to provide at the initial event planning meetings. This helps the customer to see what items are their responsibility and what items the team is available to help with.
The improvement team also created a walk through check list to make sure that the proposed event space is appropriate and that all needs will be met for the event. The walk through check list is still being developed and improved as the team gains experience meeting with customers at the site of the event.
Finally, in an effort to collect metrics and ideas for potential future improvements, the team created a short survey for the customer to evaluate their process, the value in having an event management team, and how they can improve for future events.
Team members included: Daryl Matthews, Laura Harry, Beth Frederick (of GLRC Facilites), Lori Weir, Austin Kunkel, Kari Price, Kari Pietrzyk, and Karen Johnson. Facilitator: Bob Hiltunen
For more information about Lean and Process Improvements at mtu.edu/improvement.

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.


Lean Focus—Supply Room 5S

Cleaning Up!

Photo of the Fifth Floor Supply Area 5S Team (left to right): Colin Neese, Andi Barajas, Cayce Will, Danielle Davis, Ann Kitalong-Will, and Lean Facilitator Laura Harry.
Fifth Floor Supply Area 5S Team (left to right): Colin Neese, Andi Barajas, Cayce Will, Danielle Davis, Ann Kitalong-Will, and Lean Facilitator Laura Harry.

Business Operations and the Office of Information Services completed a 5S of their supplies area. The previous state of the supply area was unorganized, full of items nobody wanted or needed, and staff couldn’t find the supplies they need easily. The new, current state has an organized supply area, having supplies on hand that are needed, removing unused items, eliminating waste and to created an easy order process. The improvement ties into the University’s Strategic Goals by promoting safety, effectiveness, and efficiency and creates an aesthetic and sustainable infrastructure. A Kanban system was created for reorder and to determine inventory levels. Weekly audits of the space are posted in the supply cubicle that staff and students are included in to sustain the area.

Photo of the Fifth Floor Supply Area Before the 5S.
Fifth Floor Supply Area Before the 5S.
Photo of the Fifth Floor Supply Area During the 5S. “Keep, Return, and Rid”
Fifth Floor Supply Area During the 5S. “Keep, Return, and Rid.”
Photo of the Fifth Floor Supply Area After the 5S.
Fifth Floor Supply Area After the 5S.

Student Spotlight Series: Rylie Store, Office of Continuous Improvement

A picture of RylieStore
Rylie Store

Rylie Store is a third-year student here at Michigan Tech who is currently majoring in both Medical Lab Science and Pre-Medicine. Rylie is also a graduate of the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP). Rylie is currently working with the Office of Continuous Improvement as a Process Improvement Coordinator (PIC). A typical day working for the Office of Continuous Improvement, in Rylie’s words, “is hard to describe” because she often finds herself engaging in different activities almost daily. Some days, for example, she can be in the office creating powerpoints for a report out on a past Kaizen, and on others, she might be out at meetings facilitating a Lean improvement process. One thing is always consistent though whenever she is working, Rylie is always trying to help improve the school and campus. Working at the Office of Continuous Improvement comes with a lot of responsibility but Rylie likes the challenge and is overjoyed to be working with and learning about Lean Improvement.

Working in the Office of Continuous Improvement involves using and practicing Lean principles on a daily basis, and Rylie has been involved in designing Lean training events around campus and coordinating the events to run effectively and efficiently. Since the Office of Continuous Improvement has started coordinating Lean events the office has hosted over 240 successful kaizens. The Office of Continuous Improvement is proud to have facilitated or been involved with a large number of successful events that have improved a wide range of processes around campus, from a process to check out keys to improving the commencement ceremony for graduation.

Rylie is originally from the Houghton/Hancock area and has explored much of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and is always looking for new and exciting places to visit. Over this summer, Rylie has plans to cross off more U.P. destinations from her bucket list that she hasn’t had the opportunity to visit yet. During her free time, she enjoys downhill skiing, photography, hunting, fishing, and pretty much anything else outdoor related. Rylie is also part of the Ski and Snowboard Club of Michigan Tech and has traveled with the club out west for spring break this past semester. Skiing has been a big part of Rylie’s Life, she grew up downhill ski racing and training in Colorado before college. She has also obtained her Professional Ski Instructors of America Level 1 Certification her senior year of high and is hoping to achieve her Level 2 certification this winter to better help instruct her students at The Mont Ripley Ski Area.

Before college, Rylie started her own photography business as a junior in high school. A big portion of her business was photographing senior photos for fellow students at her school. Rylie shot senior pictures for over 50 clients in the first two years of establishing her photography business. She also shot weddings, shooting 20 wedding as a second photographer at the events to capture the more candid shots and participating in a few weddings as the main photographer.

Rylie in front on the Improvement Office Kanban Board.
Rylie in front on the Improvement Office Kanban Board.

Working in the Office of Continuous Improvement, Rylie gets to meet with many new people every day from across campus and enjoys the diverse amount of people she gets to interact with and, as Rylie said, “how everyone is unique.” Her favorite things about Michigan Tech go hand in hand with each other; she loves the community and the people, she appreciates that everybody is readily accepted at Tech and that there are not people considered “outcasts” here. She believes that there is a place for everyone to fit in and make new friends and she believes that she has found that in the Michigan Tech community.

Children are a big part of Rylie’s life. Over the past few years, she has taught over 100 kids at Mont Ripley, babysat for over 50 others, and has been a Summer Camp Counselor for a Girl Scout Camp for the past three years. She loves being around kids, their imaginations, their language, and how they see the world.

As for Rylie’s plans for after graduating, she has deemed it the “Magical Question” and is currently torn between going to medical school or into the research field for medical lab science. Above all else, she knows that she wants to be a mother when she is ready.


On the Road—2017 Michigan Lean Consortium

A number of Michigan Tech staff and students attended the 7th Annual Michigan Lean Consortium (MLC) Conference that was held on August 2-4 in Traverse City, Michigan. The conference was well attended and focused on topics including: enabling organizational improvement through effective change management, business engagement in Lean Facilitation through participant centered learning, coaching for professional performance improvement, and a workshop called “The 7 Quality Tools for Steering to True North” taught by Ruth Archer, Director of Continuous Improvement at Michigan Tech. Also, Michigan Tech student Process Improvement Coordinators from the Office of Continuous Improvement prepared materials for a display table and met with MLC leadership to brainstorm on the start-up of Student MLC Chapters.

Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, associate vice president for administration, participated in a pre-conference Board of Directors meeting and has been elected to the position of Vice Chair of the MLC. She is entering her last year of a three-year term of the ten-member board. The MLC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is governed by an all-volunteer board, with a membership that is dedicated to spreading Lean principles throughout every public and private sector industry in Michigan.

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Conference attendees include Theresa Coleman-Kaiser; Ruth Archer; Brenda Randell, Executive Assistant for the Associate Vice President for Administration; Colin Neese, Business System Analyst for the Office of Information Services; Andi Barajas, Communications and Media Specialist for the Business Operations office; Annelise Doll, Scholarly Communications and Repositories Librarian for the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library; Laurie Stark, Staff Development and Lean Initiatives Coordinator for the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library; and three Process Improvement Coordinator (PIC) student employees from the Office of Continuous Improvement, Rylie Store, Matt Chard, and Ari Laiho.

Staff and students alike were very pleased with the quality of presentations and the wealth of new information and perspectives on Lean methodology that the networking events and active learning sessions provided.

If you would like more information on this or other Lean events, please contact the Office of Continuous Improvement at 906-487-3180 or email improvement-l@mtu.edu.


Lean Focus—Fishbone Diagrams

Fishbone Diagrams, or an Ishikawa diagram, is considered one of the Seven Basic Tools of Quality. They are used to breakdown, in increasing levels of detail, root causes that can potentially lead to a specific problem.

500px-Ishikawa_Fishbone_Diagram.svg
The diagram above shows how to identify the factors of Equipment, Process, People, Materials, Environment and Management, all affecting the overall problem. Smaller arrows connect the sub-causes to major causes.


Student Spotlight Series—Stephen Butina

Stephen Butina is a fourth-year student at Michigan Tech currently majoring in Management with a concentration in Supply Chain & Operations. Stephen is currently working as a Logistics co-op in the Logistics department at Greenheck Fan in Wausau, WI. While at school, Stephen works in the Office of Continuous Improvement as a Student Process Improvement Coordinator.

According to Stephen, “no day is typical” as far as his job in the Improvement Office is concerned. There are a multitude of tasks and projects that are a part of his job. In the mornings, Stephen checks the Improvement Office’s Kaizen event board to make sure he is up to speed with what he will be doing for the day as well as checking for different events on campus that people are working on to see if they need help coordinating their Lean event. He then goes on to check his emails and to check his personal Kanban board. Stephen’s personal Kanban board includes recurring tasks, various deadlines, and items that need to be checked at a later time. Using this tool helps Stephen organize his thoughts and spend more time doing “value-added” work for the Improvement Office, rather than wasting time trying to figure out what he is supposed to do. Lastly, he finishes up any blog post detailing the Improvement Office’s work that he publishes on the mtu.edu/improvement website.

SB-SS

Originally from an area ten minutes south of Houghton, Stephen has had the opportunity to explore the Keweenaw a great deal before coming to Michigan Tech. Stephen enjoys golfing, snowboarding, hunting, walking his dog, and hanging out with his family. Stephen is also an active member of the Leaders of Continuous Improvement. Stephen’s favorite thing about Michigan Tech is that he has met so many new people and feels as though he has grown as a person. Finding “friends that will be around forever” and getting to see new faces every day and meet new people has made Tech the perfect place for him.

From his time working for the Improvement Office at Tech, Stephen has had the opportunity to meet a number of great people dedicated to Lean. Lean has “opened my eyes to a lot of good people.” Having heard about Lean through his classes, Stephen has been learning as much as he can about Lean processes and continuous improvement theory, going to as many Lean events and training sessions as he can participate in. Stephen has also been reading books about Lean such as Andy & Me: Crisis & Transformation on the Lean Journey by Pascal Dennis, a book where the reader learns that Lean is more than just a collection of tools; it entails a new way of thinking and behaving. Stephen has been using Lean methods to help improve his grades and reduce his stress levels along with helping him become more organized. He is currently using a personal Kanban board for everyday use as well as an occasional Affinity diagram and 5S for small fixes. From using these different tools, Stephen has been able to keep himself organized by focusing on what is “value-added” towards his studies rather than stressing about various menial tasks. He has been able to organize himself to the point where he is comfortable relying on his Google Calendar and personal planner to effectively perform in both his personal and professional life which has shown significant improvements in his academic performance.


Continuous Improvement Courses this Fall

Muda (waste), mura (unevenness), and muri (overburden); these are known as the “three Ms” that Lean works to eliminate. Originally developed by Toyota in an attempt to reduce waste and inefficiency in manufacturing operations, Lean principles are being adopted by organizations across countless fields in the name of continuous improvement. Lean principles are finding their way into our own university in the form of the Office of Continuous Improvement and—as of last year—a series of classes meant to introduce students to Lean concepts and to cultivate the Lean mindset. In the Fall semesters, ENT 3982 – Continuous Improvement Using Lean Principles, describes the evolution of the basic principles, methods, and tools Lean provides to continuously improve the workplace. The following spring semesters discuss a culture of continuous improvement based on humility and respect in ENT 3983 – The Culture of Continuous Improvement. After the first offering of these classes last year, students are already taking Lean methods and tools to other projects. About one such tool, the kanban board, team leader Kush Shah comments, “(the kanban board) brought collaboration, responsibility, and quality work back into our (Supermileage Systems Enterprise) team.”

Learn more about Lean at http://www.mtu.edu/improvement/ or register for a class on Banweb!

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