The University of Iowa first implemented the Lean program in 2006 when we were challenged to do more with less, due to changes in state appropriations and high competition for research dollars. Because the University is committed to excellence, Organizational Effectiveness started its own Lean practices to help become more efficient, provide higher quality customer service, decrease costs, and improve productivity and results. The implementation of Lean at the University of Iowa benefits not only the University, but also industry and students as well.
Lean is about the culture of an organization and a way of thinking. It’s a time-tested proven approach to improving processes within an organization by maximizing value while reducing waste. It also allows an organization to do more with their existing resources. Lean encourages individuals to challenge preconceptions about the way they do what they do. Refer to the Waste Identification site for important discussion of value and the eight forms of waste.
Process improvement benefits all involved parties-the customers, the staff that do the work, the leaders and the departments.
- Customers benefit by reduced waiting time, less errors and higher customer satisfaction ratings.
- Staff benefit by reduced frustration, elimination of wasted time in the process, reduced errors, and better collaboration.
- Leaders benefit by more engaged staff, greater innovation and collaboration and reduced costs.
- Departments benefit by more transparency with engaged teams driving improvements that provide benefits to the customer.
By focusing on operations improvement, we can give time back so our staff can spend more time with our patients and their families providing direct patient care and improving our services.
- Ken Kates, Chief Executive Officer, UI Health Care
It makes a lot of sense to actually go to the people that actually do the work and let them offer up how to make it better, more effective and more fun.
- Bruce Harreld, President
View the video: Benefits of a Lean Culture
Lean can be expected to:
- Decrease the complexity of processes.
- Provide an opportunity for those who do the work to develop ideas for improvement and efficiency.
- Improve the quality and consistency of results.
- Allocate more staff time to “mission critical” work.
- Improve staff morale.
- Increase process transparency which allows errors or problems to be identified more quickly.
- Gain a shared appreciation for the integral part each person plays in the process being reviewed.
- Create an opportunity for dialogue between all units involved in the process.
Lean is a very structured review of a business process and the individual steps that make up that process. The review identifies three components related to value or waste, one of which can be attached to every step in the process. The components are defined as:
- Those that add value (defined from a customer perspective),
- Those that don’t add value but are necessary due to laws, regulations or other outside influence, and
- Those that don’t add any value at all and are pure waste. Those steps that are pure waste are targeted for removal.
Removing process steps that add no value is the greatest potential source of improvement. Once waste has been identified and removed, processes are then redesigned to allow the service and/or information to flow through the new process without interruption.
It’s critical for all tools to have the support of management and leaders to ensure that the Lean tool selected will be successful and that the changes made will be sustained in the future. It’s important to remember to choose the right tool by examining which areas of your process are the biggest problem areas at the current time. The University of Iowa offers different tools for your organization to choose from, depending on the current need.