LEAN kickoff“On September 10, at approximately midnight, Columbia College was overrun with zombies. Details surrounding the incident are still vague, but it seems a chemical reaction triggered re-animation of the dead.

While things looked bleak, there was hope. An antidote had been created and was being housed at the Brouder Science Center. To survive the incident and save the college, adventurers had to be efficient, or as Dr. Terry Smith would say, LEAN.”

This was the task participants were charged with at a zombie maze event held in September to help educate the college community on the LEAN initiative.

LEAN is an institutional effectiveness initiative designed to improve processes and reduce waste. It includes process mapping, or taking a close look at every step of a process in your work environment to see if there are more efficient ways of doing things. It also takes into account all players and the end product.

There are eight forms of waste that LEAN hopes to eliminate: overproducing, waiting, overprocessing or extra processing, inventory, excessive motion, defects or correction, transportation and behaviors or underutilized people.

Examples of these types of waste were represented at four junctures located throughout a maze in the Southwell Complex. Adventurers were presented with a decision — the LEAN answer would allow participants to move on; the inefficient answer would lead to a group of ferocious zombies.

Screams were heard throughout Southwell Complex as zombies reached for ankles and jumped out from drape-covered corners. As survivors (everyone survived — those who met zombies were still able to continue on their journey) exited the maze, they were greeted with snacks, refreshments, a flashlight prize and an appeal to submit LEAN ideas.

So here’s an appeal to you. Higher education is transformational for the individual; LEAN is transformational for the organization. Send your bright ideas on how to improve Columbia College’s processes to cclean@ccis.edu.