Process Palooza – Lean Six Sigma in Action at UC San Diego

By Mark Hersberger.  What do you get when you mix a day of education and competition centered around continuous improvement?

Process Palooza – a first-of-its kind event showcasing how UC San Diego gains efficiencies through Lean Six Sigma (LSS).

Attendees convened November 8, 2017, for an action-packed agenda. Experienced LSS practitioners tackled a real UC San Diego business challenge, while others attended workshops.

Competitors put LSS training to the test

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to spur continuous improvement. During the Great LSS Race, six teams tackled one of two campus processes:

  • student employee travel requests (Associated Students), and
  • new employee commute options (Transportation Services).

All 36 competitors had formal LSS training, having earned yellow (beginning), green (advanced) or black belt (expert) certifications. Teams put the LSS framework of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC) to work, filling whiteboards with fishbone diagrams, swimlane maps, and other analysis techniques.

“The competition was very fast paced,” commented Jenna Lucius, a yellow belt from Academic Personnel Services. “We split up work based on our strengths, and it was exciting to see everything come together in the end.”

Winners were announced, but the true prize was a full day spent learning, doing, and connecting. Participants came away enthusiastic about how they can improve and apply their skills.

“Taking part in Process Palooza keeps LSS on the forefront of my mind,” said Lucius. “It’s a reminder to keep examining the processes I work with daily, and realize there might be efficiencies I can add.”

Meanwhile, both Transportation Services and Associated Students are reviewing the competitors’ solutions and considering improvements inspired by the competition.

Workshops offered continuous learning

Attendees not in the competition participated instead in workshop tracks for LSS Basics and LSS in Action, which provided introductory classes and showcased LSS projects at UC San Diego.

“Attendees valued both the competition and conference elements. That’s critical because it demonstrates that the concept of learning from each other is very much in demand,” said Lynn Underwood, service management office and continuous improvement manager in IT Services, who planned and led the event with Mojgan Amini, director of process management and continuous improvement.

Underwood also noted strong attendance from all sectors of campus, and that the 500 participants exceeded the organizers’ expectations.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, Underwood is taking feedback to make next year’s event even better.

The sponsors behind Process Palooza

Process Palooza was co-produced by UC San Diego IT Services and UC San Diego Extension. The idea originated with Chief Information Officer Vince Kellen. After attending a training session focused on improving a fictitious process, he wanted to bring LSS practitioners together in a high-energy, competitive environment to take on a real business process.

The event also showcased current UC San Diego efforts. Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Simmons noted in her welcome address that ongoing construction and expansion provide opportunities to improve business processes.

Approximately 1,500 staff members have earned yellow, green, and black belts. They’re ready for the challenge.

Watch the video recap below and read the following for more information and how to get involved:

Mark HersbergerMark Hersberger is communications and outreach manager for IT Services at UC San Diego.



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