History of Lean at Michigan Tech

Our Story

  • In 2008, President Glenn Mroz initiated continuous improvement using Lean practices at Michigan Tech by bringing in a Lean consultant to train and coach a Lean Implementation Staff.
  • In 2009, the first kaizen (continuous improvement) event was held on campus.
  • In 2011, a grant was received from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to train more facilitators and some Lean implementation leaders.  
  • From 2011 to the present, continuous improvement has expanded across campus and the community. For example:
    • Now we've completed more that 170 kaizen events involving 700+ people 
    • The Leaders in Continuous Improvement student organization engages Michigan Tech students in Lean and continuous improvement training and activities
    • Campus and community outreach is happening through multiple media, including a Lean blog, lending library, Twitter, campus workshops, and regular articles in Tech Today, Michigan Tech's employee newsletter
    • The Copper Country Lean Group, an association of local businesses and organizations involved with Lean, quality, and continuous improvement, meets quarterly

An Organization that Supports Change

There are many degrees of change that can result in improvements within an organization.  These changes can be grouped into three categories

  • Strategic Initiatives - University-wide change
  • Improvement Events - Interdepartmental or benefit from a cross-functional team
  • Individual Improvements - that each person makes day-to-day and moment-to-moment as new possibilities are revealed

One of Michigan Tech's strategic goals is to "attract, retain, and support a world-class and diverse faculty, staff, and student population." One way to do this is to continuously improve upon the day-to-day processes that allow our University to operate--whether in areas that directly serve our students, in behind-the-scenes functions that help us do our jobs, or in enhancing an environment where faculty, staff and students are fulfilled and motivated to seek new ways to innovate.

Through this process of continuously improving, those of us in the Michigan Tech community can develop a problem-solving mindset that allows us to habitually, cooperatively, and rigorously strive for "perfection" in our work.