Continuous Improvement

Lean Certification

Michigan Tech’s Lean transformation uses an embedded Lean facilitator model that has our frontline supervisors and employees solving problems and making improvements. In this model, the Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) creates Lean capability by training employees in Lean fundamentals and principles, coaching, and facilitating. As facilitators, these employees lead continuous improvement events, consult with team leaders, conduct process map and workflow analysis, and teach and use problem solving skills and tools.

To ensure the continued success of our Lean facilitators, systematic coaching, mentoring, and training for the group is provided. This plan creates a framework that enables us to better define, measure, and report our facilitator activities, and provides a structured way for the facilitators to grow in their Lean practices. Actively managing this valuable resource supports the facilitators as they serve their unit and the university.

Michigan Tech uses a certification program to guide facilitators as they grow in knowledge, skills, and abilities. The goal of the certification program is to enhance the application of Lean thinking and tools for the benefit of Michigan Tech. There are five possible certification levels in the program, with the intent that most facilitators will participate at the second level, as a Lean Facilitator. Achieving advanced levels is a cumulative process. Each level includes and builds on the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of the previous level. The requirements include skill application, participation in our Lean community of practice, continuing education, teaching, and pair learning, coaching, and mentoring.

Facilitators recommit to participation annually, which includes supervisor approval for continued service, whether that is at the same level or at a higher or lower level. The recommitment statement includes a list of the level requirements to ensure transparency of service requirements with the facilitator and their supervisor. After recommitment, evidence of the facilitator meeting certification requirements is documented in a provided portfolio. A coach is assigned to each facilitator; quarterly check-ins by the coach with the facilitators support their steady progress toward certification. 

The facilitator’s portfolio is reviewed once annually, at the end of the cycle, by the Lean Facilitator Development Board, and a certification decision is made. In the event the facilitator disagrees with the board’s decision, an appeal process is followed. The review period is scheduled for mid-April every year.

A Lean Facilitator Development Board advises OCI on Lean facilitator training, development, certification, strategy, and deployment. They also participate in confirmatory and level-up board processes, including individual and board-level reviews and level determination.