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Celebrating the power of lean


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Finance & Administration's Lean Showcase draws hundreds
UW teams share ideas at annual showcase

UW employees from around campus converged at the HUB on Oct. 2 to compare notes and share results from some of their team’s latest lean ideas and implementations. The 7th annual Lean Cultural Showcase was hosted by UW Finance & Administration and highlighted the work of more than 70 teams.

Lean is defined as improving core processes by eliminating waste, redundancy and rework. The annual showcase is an opportunity for employees to share how their ideas, both simple and complex, can lead to ways of doing their work more efficiently and enhancing customer service.


OUGL Lean team displays their idea.

Left, Azemera Tefrie and Nely Morris, Team OUGL, share their Lean posterboard. Right, guests check out a transportation website. Photos by Nancy Gardner

Ideas matter

For the custodial team at Odegaard Library, that meant swapping out 2-roll toilet tissue dispensers to 4-roll dispensers. This reduced the number of times needed to replenish the dispensers, saving time and effort.

Azemera Tefrie and Nely Morris, custodians who are part of the five-person Odegaard team, said they like the fact that their ideas and input matter.

“Lean is good because we all get to submit our ideas,” said Morris. Tefrie, who has worked at the UW for four years, said their weekly team huddle helps everyone feel like their opinions are important.

Several hundred people attended the showcase, circulating around the HUB ballroom to view the different poster presentations as big screens displayed photos of the teams taking part. For these teams it was an opportunity to recognize their accomplishments, celebrate progress with their leaders and continue to learn and grow.

Scott Lacey was there representing the Creative Communications IT Group. Their lean team focused on reducing the number of virtual servers and workstations, and thus the total amount of data, managed by its group. Lacey said their efforts have helped reduce virtual servers and workstations by 23 percent, allowing employees to spend time on other projects.

Outside guests from Starbucks, the Port of Seattle, King County, REI and others also came to the showcase to learn more about how the University implements lean thinking and processes.

“How do we bring lean concepts to all areas of the company rather than just a few pockets, and how do we involve all staff levels?” said Rich Mayer, a senior project manager at REI.

The UW’s Lean program launched in 2010. Email the UW Lean Team for more information or check out their website.