As the new Continuous Improvement (CI) unit within the Office of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives (SASDI), we hosted our first seminar on continuous improvement and change management in October 2017, and due to expanded interest we offered a second one on Friday, November 10, 2017. The seminar objectives were the same, though we applied feedback from the first seminar to make improvements to our case study and to some of our implementation tools and instructions.
To us, the most powerful part of the seminar was the fact that representatives from a diversity of units at the university came together with the common impetus to learn specific tools and methodologies to help them make positive changes and improvements in their areas of work. In attendance were representatives from Access Card & Parking Services, Career Services, Galvin Library, and the Office of Sustainability, as well as a biomedical engineering student—all different, but with a common desire to learn about ways to work through changes, focus on improvement, and serve their offices for the better. With universities being siloed institutions by design, each unit and department working toward the common university mission though with its own responsibilities, simply coming together to learn together can be powerful. It can be validating (and even relieving!) to realize that you are not alone in your work struggles not alone in wanting to make the university a better place.
“The seminar was thorough and practical. I believe all in attendance could relate to the Move-It! case study. We were certainly eager to identify the quick-wins in the study and the possibilities back at our offices!”
– Dana Royal, Director, Access, Card, and Parking Services
“Everything was well delivered. I enjoyed the entire workshop. Very informative. Now I know who I can contact when I’m stuck or for assistance.”
– Alicia Barnes, Assignment Administrator, Access, Card, and Parking Services
One of the most helpful revelations for the participants of this seminar was that when we have a process in our office that is not working well, it is natural to automatically jump to solutions, but we really should not start there. While there is much merit in wanting to immediately fix a problem, such an automatic response often yields one of two results. One result is that we diagnose the problem as one that can only be saved by a complete overhaul. When we realize that such an overhaul would require unavailable or unrealistic funding, staff time, timelines, etc., we end up disheartened, frustrated, and—worst of all—apathetic. The other result is that we often misdiagnose priorities, spending time and energy on partial fixes, though without deciding upon them in a strategic fashion.
Such a nonstrategic piecemeal approach can mean wasted time and resources without much of an impact on the process that was meant to be improved. As the circular diagram below shows, there are several steps that precede generation of solutions when troubleshooting how to quickly improve a process while the dream of an entire process overhaul is still out of reach. One aspect of our seminar (a facilitated process we applied to a case study) helps participants learn how to traverse this process with confidence and results.
|Oct 2017 Seminar||Nov 2017 Seminar|
|Percentage of participants who felt the seminar was interactive||100%||100%|
|Percentage of participants who agree that they can apply what they learned to their work||94%||100%|
|Percent increase in the participants’ awareness of some basic continuous improvement methodologies||129%||274%|
About the authors
Megan E. Mozina is the Director of Strategic Alignment in the Office of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives at Illinois Tech. Within SASDI, she is responsible for strategic planning, targeted projects, and integration of continuous improvement methodologies. Her change management certification, interest in Lean, Masters in international higher education, and background in intercultural training, combined with over a decade of experience in international/higher education, inform her work.
Molly McCaughey is a project manager and communications specialist in the Office of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives at Illinois Tech. She oversees a student team that implements marketing and communications strategies for the SASDI division, and also works on development and integration of continuous improvement methodologies. She has a background in English and ESL teaching and training, and is a Prosci Certified Change Management Practitioner.