Lean Six Sigma Comes to UC Davis

Lean Six Sigma instructor speaking to the class
A recent Lean Six Sigma training session (Henrique Teixeira/UC Davis)

Lean Six Sigma Comes to UC Davis

UC Davis professionals can now earn their yellow belt, as part of their campus job. No, it’s not a martial arts designation, but the new Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training, led by the UC Davis Office of Business Transformation, a new unit within Finance, Operations and Administration (FOA).

In the first nine months, 610 participants across the UC Davis and UC Davis Health campuses have completed the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training, which teaches strategies to analyze processes and develop solutions to improve productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction. Initially started as a partnership between the Office of Business Transformation, UC Davis IET and UC Davis Health IT Applications, the program is now open to all units across UC Davis and UC Davis Health.

Hands-on approach, real-world application

The yellow belt training consists of a foundation in Lean Six Sigma terms and methodologies with the bulk of the time focused on a team-oriented simulation exercise to apply the core principles.

“I really enjoy these classes because the simulation exercise generates active participation,” says Ron Burt, IET Communications Resources manager. “It’s a challenging scenario that builds some frustration initially, but people ultimately have to work together through a realistic scenario and apply the concepts that they learn during class.”

Participants walk away with skills they can apply to their own day-to-day processes, whether they work in research, education or operations. The Lean Six Sigma methodologies can help identify ways to eliminate waste, save time and improve processes.

Staff from the Division of Student Affairs recently completed the training and identified applications for student programs and services.

“The Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training is excellent,” says Cory Vu, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “We have gained tools to help us improve our programs and better serve the students.”

Growing the Lean Six Sigma program

As the training becomes more widely available to UC Davis employees, some units, like Finance, Operations and Administration (FOA), plan to provide training to all career staff throughout the division.

“There is value in having everyone speak the same language when it comes to process improvement,” says FOA Chief Operating Officer Blair Stephenson. “Our goal is to have all career staff complete the yellow belt training, and some to go on to earn their green belts.”

Classes are in high demand as the program continues to attract participation from units across campus. For the remainder of 2019, classes are fully booked with waitlists, but the 2020 schedule is now available with monthly sessions. Private classes (team and department trainings) will be scheduled as needed. The Green Belt version of the program is currently in development, with a pilot program launching later this year.

Helping campus units with process improvement and change management

While many business processes can benefit from Lean Six Sigma, some may require other types of analysis and support. With a full toolkit of business process improvement methodologies, the Office of Business Transformation is available for consultation on a wide range of different business process challenges. Not only can this new team assist campus units with identifying ways to improve their processes, but they also provide support for change management to help employees successfully adopt change.

“By having business process improvement and change management expertise in one department, we can take a holistic approach and provide units with the support they need to make a lasting impact,” says Erica Aichwalder, Office of Business Transformation manager.

The Office of Business Transformation offers training and consultation in the areas of business process improvement and change management for employees, supervisors, managers. Contact the Office of Business Transformation to discuss your unit’s business needs.

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