Monthly Archives

May 2014

Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma

2020: A Look Back – A Look Ahead

 msp campus small 

 McNeely Hall

       

We’ve come a long way! 2020 Vision began in the spring of 2010, born of the idea that our college would be faced with many significant challenges in the years ahead,challenges that would require new perspectives and a skillset more amenable to a dynamic environment.  We recognized the pressures of declining enrollments, diminishing resources, and increased competition. We knew that over time, there would cease to be business as usual, replaced by persistent change and reinvention.

In four years, we have accomplished much, and we’ve done so in a spirit of continuous improvement. What precisely does that mean?  Well, it starts with recognizing the legitimacy of seeking out new and different ways of doing things. It acknowledges that our traditional processes and procedures, no matter how thoughtfully devised, must always be evaluated in the light of new factors.  Changes in people, technology, organization, and markets drive the need to improve our work processes. 

The desire to change must be coupled with the will and the talent to design and effect change. To that end, we have a small legion of folks who’ve undergone training in continuous improvement disciplines including basic quality and process tools to Six Sigma Green Belt and Certified Professional Project Management training. We’ve launched several projects, most fairly small but none unimportant, where team members have been given real opportunities to employ their newly-acquired skills. We have successfully completed a number of them and achieved cost reductions, improved processes, and better reliability.

We’ve accomplished all this in a way that has become a growing part of our culture.  Our initiatives are no longer as threatening as they were at first.  Our methodical approach to evaluating work processes, interviewing process owners, and devising alternative approaches is now accepted as a worthwhile way to improve the organization.  We’ve accomplished our goals in a way that benefits the culture of our college and prepares us for any new challenge that might come our way.

What might those changes be? The university has a new President, is about to have a new Provost, a new VP of Enrollment, and a new Associate VP of HR.  Sometime in the future, we will have a new VP, Technology and VP, Development.  There is a project to create a new centralized Graduate Admissions Services function. Our college will have a new Dean.  The President is developing a new strategy for the university, and I suspect our new Dean will drive a new strategy for our college. It might be safe to assume that a lot of things will change. And many of those changes will fundamentally change how work gets done. 

That’s what we have accomplished. We are ready for change. We have the trained people, the discipline, the tools and the will to take on change and master it.  We have the ability to respond positively and enthusiastically to the prospect of change, and not be intimidated or overwhelmed by it. We’ve built a legion of change masters, and for that I thank all of you for your faith in this effort and your engagement in the process!

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