Continuous Improvement FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


How long has Michigan Tech been involved with Lean?

Michigan Tech adopted the Lean approach to continuous improvement in early 2008.


Does Lean mean cutting positions?

No, Lean is not about eliminating jobs. It's about respecting all employees and enabling them to pursue ideas and opportunities to improve their work. Oftentimes, Lean improvements result in time savings and freed-up resources. This becomes a great opportunity to devote those savings to other areas and to new ideas.


What kinds of waste does Lean seek to eliminate?

Waste in Lean is known as the three Ms—muda (waste), mura (unevenness), and muri (overburden).  Mura refers to variations or inconsistencies in a process; muri concerns overburden or unreasonableness in a process.

Muda is further divided into eight forms of waste:

  1. Motion—unnecessary movement of people
  2. Waiting—people waiting for people, information, products, equipment, etc.
  3. Movement—unnecessary movement of "things"
  4. Correction—incomplete or incorrect information
  5. Over Processing—doing more than necessary to produce a product or service
  6. Overproduction—doing or making more than needed
  7. Inventory—excess supplies, paperwork, information or equipment
  8. Knowledge—not utilizing an individual's full capacity (knowledge, skills, aptitude and/or creativity)


What is a "Quick Point"?

Quick Points are found on the Tools and Templates page. The term, "Quick Point" refers to our 1-2 page reference sheets for Lean tools and templates. Each Quick Point introduces you to the tool or template and, if applicable, will walk you through basic steps explaining how to use it.


Is there information about other continuous improvement events?

Yes. The What's Happening page lists the events currently taking place across campus. The Continuous Improvement Blog shares experiences from events on campus along with information about various tools and lessons learned. The Reports page has our Annual Reports and Board of Trustees updates which include information about events that have taken place on campus.