All Posts By

John McCall

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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2020 Team members, Continuous Improvement, Faculty

Welcome to 2020 Vision

Nothing is more certain than change, and that is certainly
true for higher education.

The challenges we face today are only going to grow more daunting in the future. Whether these are the unique financial challenges of private colleges and universities, including our very own UST, or the changing nature of students, classrooms, media and course delivery, we will all face the need to embrace new ways of doing things. Those who learn to excel at thoughtful and purposeful change will succeed; those who do not will be left behind. No one wants to be left behind.


Frances 3 quote

That’s why, nearly three years ago, the college launched the 2020 Vision task force to address the need for continuous improvement in all we do. Our goal was to start slowly, learn the discipline and tools of the continuous improvement process, take on some small projects to build confidence and prepare ourselves to handle any challenge that comes our way. In 2010, Dr. John Olson instructed a team of nearly 30 administrative and staff support personnel in the fundamentals of continuous improvement. We picked a few projects and set out to create a new culture that validates and values people looking constantly for ways to do things better. Today, we’ve made a lot of progress with projects such as Printer/Copier Utilization, Mail Distribution, Faculty Expense Reimbursement Processing, and Administrative Support to Faculty Research. Our teams are learning quickly and applying their newfound knowledge to real opportunities around the college. Dr. Olson continues to train and retrain, mentor and counsel our project teams. We are slowly but persistently developing an incredible organizational capability to understand work flow, organize our information and data, devise innovative approaches and use the disciplines of continuous improvement to make the OCB a better college.

Today, we are introducing the 2020 Vision: A Continuous Improvement Project Blog. It’s important that everyone in the college learn about our team, what we have accomplished, and where we have set our sights on new projects. Of course, we hope that the excitement of this blog and ongoing posts about the projects will inspire many of you to join our team. That would be wonderful, and we have plenty for you to do. But even if you don’t officially join our team, being aware of what we are trying to achieve and supporting us is important as well.

So, thank you for reading the Opus College of Business 2020 Vision blog and be sure to check out the site each month as we add new and interesting stories and facts on our continuous improvement journey.

John McCallMcCall at work
Associate Dean & CFO
Opus College of Business

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