Columiba College LEAN workoutEarly in the three-day long LEAN “workout,” the excitement over possible fixes to improve the Day Campus’s scholarship process was evident among the event’s participants. But Colleen Brown, a LEAN champion on the case, was there to remind everyone that before fixes can be made, the process itself has to be figured out.

“We want a long-term fix, not a temporary fix or a Band-Aid,” said Mara Roberts, assistant dean for Academic Affairs and LEAN executive member.

Finding that long-term fix requires departments to work together on how best to amend the process. This workout, which took place from Oct. 23 to 25, was the first since the implementation of LEAN, an institutional effectiveness initiative designed to improve processes in the college.

Led by Dick See, a LEAN trainer from University of Iowa; Allen Schelp, primary champion; and Brown and Doug Baker, secondary champions, the workout consisted of participants from Admissions, Financial Aid and Development who are directly affected by the process. One of the most important concepts of LEAN is that those in the workflow are part of the improvement discussion.

“The process touches multiple departments,” Roberts said. “This helps all departments fix the process together.”

Brown agrees: “It brings together the stakeholders,” she said.

This first workout came about because of three compelling reasons: 1) Students who might be eligible for scholarships get missed, which might prevent them from attending Columbia College. 2) Massive amounts of time are consumed from the departments because of manual processes. 3) The college owns software applications that should be used to their fullest capacity.

Columbia College LEAN workoutMembers of the workout wanted to change the way scholarships are processed to be less manual and more automatic, provide better methods to identify eligible students and offer a better method to communicate information between the two departments and monitor how much money is left to award.

This conversation works to solve pain points that the departments have experienced, and it also provides a great value to the college’s students.

“It’s making the process more effective and efficient,” See said. He was on hand for the first workout to help facilitate the procedure.

If you have a recommendation on how to improve processes in your department, send your bright ideas to