KNOXVILLE, TN — When MBA Career Services Director Molly Davis began the University of Tennessee Lean Applied to Business Processes course in April 2009, she wasn’t sure how the course might apply to her work with MBAs. And she never dreamed that less than three years later, she would earn the 4th Lean Business Green Belt awarded from the Lean Applied to Business Process course and the 1st green belt earned by a University of Tennessee College of Business Administration staff member.
Davis was sure, however, that she was ready to use her learning to make some changes in how she managed MBA Career Services. During the course, she learned how to establish a mission and vision for her area, how to define work flow for what she did each day, and how to identify and eliminate wasteful procedures. After the course ended, she embarked on a mission to streamline and increase the efficiency of all aspects of her department.
She identified those activities that she did repeatedly into a set of standard procedures (called standard work) so that she could become more efficient and better distribute her work load. Two years and 21 standard worksheets later, she found herself in a much better position – one that allowed her to strategically think about the MBA Career Services offerings from a higher level and to expand the capacity of her office.
MBA placement data supports the outcomes of her work. Placement rates are up 14 percent from 2010 to 2011 and average starting salaries of MBA graduates are up almost seven percent.
Faculty member and lean advisor Bill Peterson said that Molly applied what she learned to identify those activities that represented value to her customers. She maximized that value while freeing up her time and that of her staff to tackle other challenges.
“The benefits of completing the course and receiving the Green Belt has been an amazing, rewarding journey,” said Davis. “The course taught me a new philosophy and provided me with a variety of tools that made a significant impact. MBA Career Services now is ready to launch a new name, create more effective programs, and continue to innovate. We are ready to serve more students and employers, which will lead to new business and create long-term revenue for the program.”
Davis said that working to achieve standard work really calmed down a chaotic process. “I have been able to engage more of the MBA program team to help me with action items,” said Davis. “The improvements have allowed me to think strategically in ways to better serve current and prospective students, employers, and alumni.”
Lean Applied to Business Processes applies process improvement concepts to administrative, service, and transactional processes. The program identifies areas of process wastes, analyzes solutions, and teaches countermeasures to improve the organization’s performance to reach its acknowledged strategy, mission, and goals. For more information about the UT Lean Applied to Business Processes course, please visit http://lean.utk.edu.