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Continuous Improvement

Mission and Vision

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

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 define continuous improvement as intentional and proactive efforts to apply change management, as well as to analyze and improve processes, systems, and services, in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency toward the fulfillment of goals and objectives.

Change Management: The definition that we use 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.

Project Management: Effectively facilitating work that is conducted to achieve an objective or set of objectives within a period of time, either managed independently or, more frequently, in teams. Since projects can vary in scale and complexity, we consider a project to be anything from planning a simple event, to evaluating the effectiveness of a recruitment campaign, to determining and implementing a new organizational structure for an office.

Process Improvement: Improving a process involves analyzing a pre-defined series of routine operational steps and determining how to change them to be more efficient and/or effective.

Strategic Planning & Management: The definitions that we use are from the Association for Strategic Planning’s Body of Knowledge. The distinction between the two terms is important, just as it is important to do them both consecutively, with robust planning followed by dedicated management.

  • Strategic Planning is an organization’s process of identifying its future direction and strategy and allocating resources in pursuit of that future direction.”
  • Strategic Management is an organization’s process of continuous planning, execution, monitoring, analyzing, and assessing all that is necessary for an organization to meets its goals and objectives in pursuit of a future direction.”

Goals

Our primary goals for the 2019 fiscal year are as follows.

  1. Serve as an internal change management consultant on projects and initiatives of great importance to the university, such as university-wide or multi-unit projects, high-risk and people-intensive changes, and other initiatives critical to the mission of Illinois Tech.
  2. Proactively and strategically catalyze a culture of continuous improvement and organizational excellence, such as by providing learning and development opportunities and support.

Advisory Board

Learn about the OCI Advisory Board below.
OCI Advisory Board 

Background

Illinois Tech’s Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) was founded in 2017 as part of the division of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives (SASDI). Former Vice Provost Gerald P. Doyle established the Continuous Improvement unitas a response to the need to support the division’s organizational agility and to ensure greater success of 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 to expand learning opportunities to the Illinois Tech community by offering trainings on continuous improvement topics.

After serving as an internal change management consultancy on several university-wide projects and providing learning and development opportunities to staff members from the majority of the divisions on campus, OCI more formally became an enterprise-wide resource. In September 2018, OCI transitioned to the Finance division under Vice President of Finance and CFO Michael Horan, who was leading changes in university operations. As part of this change, he hired Associate Vice President Hilary Hudson Hosek to lead a transformation of Human Resources; as of January 2019, OCI is located within her portfolio, approaching organizational development through a lens that is complementary to that of the reimagined human resources. 

The development of OCI was informed by research gathered from other institutions of higher education and from the research-based change management consultancy group Prosci (see Initial Research Report). OCI’s development and continued evolution has been significantly informed and inspired by the resources and opportunities through NCCI (Network for Change and Continuous Innovation: Higher Education’s Network for Change Leadership), a professional association whose mission is to “to advance change and innovation in higher education.”

INITIAL RESEARCH REPORT