Implementing Business Excellence at UC San Diego

UCSD Campus

By Mark Hersberger. UC San Diego means business when it comes to integrating a mindset of continuous improvement and business excellence. It all comes together through the Business Excellence Community of Practice (BE-CoP), which facilitates training and idea sharing at the intersection of project management, change management and continuous improvement through Lean Six Sigma.

“There’s so much synergy across the three disciplines,” said Ahren Crickard, co-chair of BE-CoP and a strategic analyst and portfolio manager in UC San Diego’s Academic Affairs department. “We’re promoting the idea that they all have to work together.”

The timing is right at UC San Diego, as the campus is standardizing its approaches to change management and project management, and has provided Lean Six Sigma certification to over 1,500 employees.

The lessons of BE-CoP apply to all initiatives across campus, and further strengthen links between technology and business units on joint projects.

From its initial conception in November 2017, BE-CoP ranks swelled to over 100 within a month. Under the guidance of a six-person steering committee, BE-CoP puts on monthly events that focus on networking and learning. Past monthly gatherings have featured topics such as foundational principles of project management, ice breakers for project meetings, using lean six sigma tools in project management, and a book club discussion on Radical Candor, a book on open communication.

Kevin DelMastro, senior academic personnel analyst from Academic Personnel Services, said, “Through BE-CoP I’ve met many interesting people from different backgrounds, and have learned about important campus initiatives. I’ve also learned some new project and change management skills.”

That experience sums up BE-CoP. “Communities of practice are all about sharing,” Crickard said. “Best practices are never developed in one place – they’re crowd sourced. We’re providing tools to lead the conversation about effective management.”

It’s paying off for DelMastro. By trade he’s not a technologist, project manager or change manager…but he’s involved with all three as his department transitions to a new academic review solution and process. “Involvement with BE-CoP has provided some skills on communication and other key elements as we undergo this change,” he explained. “Anything I can learn from BE-CoP, I’m going to apply.

Lisa Bargabus, a summer session analyst, is finding value too. Her department is also transitioning to the new academic review software, which includes a major process review. “By being involved with BE-CoP, I have a toolkit. It’s like I have a head start on what to expect and how to contribute,” she says. “Plus, it’s great for networking and getting questions answered.”

Finally, Gina Torgersen, a human resources generalist from the Academic Affairs business office, experienced the merger of the foundational concepts first hand. She completed her LSS Yellow Belt (beginner), then attended a BE-CoP workshop on project management. “It was good to get a refresher on project management,” she explains. “And it was very interesting to ‘lean out’ the steps to see if they were as efficient as possible – or even necessary.”

You can learn more about BE-CoP – its purpose, best practices and how to apply it to IT – during a breakout session at UCCSC this August. You can also get involved with BE-CoP – no matter what UC you represent. Check out the BE-CoP web site or send a note to

Mark Hersberger is communications and outreach manager, Information Technology Services, UC San Diego.

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