Lean principles are well-established business management strategies, which are applied extensively in manufacturing and production industries to continuously improve value by reducing wastes. In recent years, the concept of lean has gone beyond the manufacturing industries and is being increasingly applied in different sectors, such as financial,healthcare, construction and various government sectors [1-3]. This paper investigated the applicability of lean principles at universities using the perceptions of undergraduate students at a higher education institution. The perceptions were collected over a period of two years as a part of class assignments and discussions for a Lean Manufacturing class.This junior level class was offered equally using face-to-face and online instruction. The perceptions of the students were analyzed as suggested by the popular “House of LeanModel” . The students’ opinions and comments concerned broad areas of stability,standardization, jidoka, just-in-time, employee involvement and customer focus.The majority of the students focused on the various categories of waste (muda) and unevenness (mura) in a university system. Some of the identified waste involved poor campus layouts causing excessive transportation or conveyance, uneven scheduling of classes causing motion and waiting, poor understanding of curriculum, inadequate communication between faculty and students, and improper management of facilities resources and inventory. Students perceive themselves as products and industries as the customers in the system. The students also focused on the waste associated with instructional modes at the university system, asserting the need for more on-line and competency-based education. The students opined that universities can implement lean principles to a certain degree by being customer focused, applying continuous improvement, reducing muda in mura, continuously involving students, faculty and staffs, and above all emphasizing a lean culture.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark_doggett/18/