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Continuous Improvement

Mission and Vision

Mission: To use established methodologies to catalyze colleagues’ goal achievement and efforts to perpetually increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their work.

Vision: To serve as a university-wide asset that helps to further the impact and resources of Illinois Tech.

Background

In 2017, Vice Provost Gerald P. Doyle established the Continuous Improvement (CI) unit within Illinois Tech’s Office of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives (SASDI) as a response to the need to support the division’s organizational agility and to ensure greater success of our projects for the benefit of our students, alumni, and community partners, especially in times of greater demand on resources and greater global competition in higher education. He also saw it as a means to create opportunities for systemic conversations across the university about continuous improvement, as well as an opportunity expand learning opportunities to the Illinois Tech community by offering trainings on continuous improvement topics. The development of the CI unit was informed by research gathered from other institutions of higher education and from the change-management research-based consultancy group Prosci. See the Initial Research Report below.

INITIAL RESEARCH REPORT

Goals

Planning & Improvement

  • Goal 1.1: Colleagues approach work with a mentality of continuous improvement
  • Goal 1.2: SASDI’s annual goals and objectives intentionally supports the university’s mission, vision, and strategic plan
  • Goal 1.3: SASDI consistently and diligently follows best practices associated with plan implementation

Human Capital Development

  • Goal 2.1: SASDI staff members have the training and resources needed to succeed in their jobs
  • Goal 2.2: SASDI staff members are committed to continuous learning and professional development in support of their work at the university
  • Goal 2.3: SASDI serves as a resource to further human capital at the university and in the community

Defining the Work

Due to the vast array of interpretations of continuous improvement, we define below several concepts central to our work and our approach.

Continuous Improvement: We are defining continuous improvement as intentional and proactive efforts to analyze and improve processes, systems, and/or services in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency toward the fulfillment of goals and objectives.

Change Management: The definition that we are using for change management is “the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome.” The change management, research-based organization Prosci developed this definition based on over twenty years of cross-industry international research. Whereas “project management” is the technical side of a change, “change management” focuses on the individuals’ and organizations’ response to change.

Lean in Higher Education: Lean is a process improvement methodology based on adding value and reducing waste in processes. While it was developed by Toyota to improve the production of vehicles, the Lean approach is increasingly being successfully applied to service industries, including higher education. We particularly reference Lean Higher Education by William K. Balzer as our inspiration to apply Lean methodologies in our continuous improvement work at Illinois Tech.