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Universities, like any organizations, can have waste. Listed below are some questions to help uncover waste:

For example: Let’s take the waste of waiting and apply it to university processes.

  • Where are students waiting? Is the waiting excessive? And, what might the root causes be?
  • How long are students waiting to find out if they are in a certain class?
  • Are students waiting a long time for exam results?
  • How long are students waiting to know if he/she has been accepted into the university?
  • How long does it take to get a new course approved?
  • How long does it take to create a course catalog and where in the process is there waiting?
  • How long are students waiting in lines on campus? (cafeteria? book store? etc.)

Let’s look at the waste of over-processing:

  • Which processes might have over-processing? Are there processes that seem lengthy or over-complicated?
  • How many forms must be completed for admission?
  • How much information is needed on forms? Is all the information necessary? How many approvals are needed?
  • How many people touch one piece of paper to get it processed?
  • What kind of University administrative processes seem over-complicated and require multiple steps, approvals or touches?

These are all questions to help “see” the waste. Hope that helps!

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.