In this issue, Dave Cresswell, the Associate Director of Strategic Practices & Continuous Service Improvement for IT Services at BCIT, will continue to talk about BCIT’s lean journey. Dave is passionate about lean. He has achieved Lean Sensei’s Blackbelt Takumi certification and is currently pursuing our Master Blackbelt certification.

  1. What is your vision for Lean at BCIT?

Lean is another set of tools in our toolkit to help support and facilitate positive transformational change at BCIT.  We are positioning Lean as one of the foundational tool sets and methodologies to help us move the organization forward.

There are measures of success that we are focusing on. Some more near term.  Others a bit farther out.  Some of the near term goals include establishing a formal organizational program of Continuous Service Improvement.  That essentially means decoupling it from IT Services and running it as a separate service available to the whole organization.  Other near term goals include the further deployment of departmental Lean capabilities to create self-sufficiency at the departmental/portfolio level.  And a third is something we call “Tour Ready”.  We are working with some of our early departmental adopters to showcase them as exemplars of the adoption of Lean at BCIT.  We say we have reached that point when between the department itself and our central-practice of Continuous Service Improvement, we can agree we are ready to open the doors to ‘tour’ internal groups and external companies and delegations through to see the impact of lean and how it impacts the area on a daily basis.

Integration of Continuous Service Improvement (CSI) into departmental and portfolio planning and reviews will be a milestone achievement for CSI at BCIT.  The centralized management and accountability of the identification, monitoring and reporting of CSI KPI’s that cascade down through the organization in alignment with the Institute’s values, strategic plan, and 3 year business plan will be another major milestone.  Achieving critical mass in Lean capacity and capability to sustain and grow our practice in all areas of the Institute will be a significant outcome of our current activities and plans.

  1. What role do executive members of the organization play in implementing the Lean strategy?

Our Senior Leadership team are critical to the success and sustainment of our Continuous Service Improvement initiatives across the organization. They are Executive Sponsors of specific Kaizen activities; they are cheerleaders for the teams of problem solvers and participants; they help direct priorities and activities to ensure we are addressing tactical and strategic initiatives and opportunities that align with the vision and direction of the Institute; and they are critical to removing and mitigating barriers that are part of any significant organizational change activities.


Dave Cresswell, Associate Director of Strategic Practices & Continuous Service Improvement for IT Services

  1. Why does lean apply to service based organizations whose processes are mainly transactional and not necessarily physically visible?

The basic philosophies of Lean, and the objectives it tries to support and achieve are as relevant in service organizations as they are in production and manufacturing plants.  The concepts of ‘customer value’, ‘flow’ and ‘eliminating waste’ are all as valid in a service organization as they are anywhere.  And the bigger and more complex a service organization is, the more likely it is that there are barriers and silos of operation (organizational structure) that have emerged and evolved over time, and that the customer really could care less about.  In fact, you can think of many transactions as manufacturing processes.  There are raw materials coming in – often in the form of information.  And then that information is processed and refined, leading to an outcome – the product. All the customer cares about is getting the product they wanted, in a timeframe that meets their needs, at a price that they are willing to pay, and of a quality and standard that meets or exceeds their expectations.

In fact, at a macro level, you could argue that BCIT’s primary product   (delivery of curriculum and learning) is a manufacturing process.  There are raw materials at the front end, including new learners and curriculum and applied skills opportunities.  During the learning activities , all of those  are combined in a rather prescriptive means with  rigorous measurement and tolerances that must be achieved and maintained.  And at the other end, out pops a person with a new set of skills or certification.

It is a journey for sure.  We are committed to it.

Recently, we did a 3 day Kaizen activity focused on two particular processes within one of the administrative areas of the Registrar’s office. We sent in a small team to work with a group of front-line staff that interact directly with our primary customers; students.  At the end of the Kaizen, the front-line staff, their management team, and the VP that they report up through were invited to hear the report-out.  The recommendations that they came up with were great.  When implemented, the recommendations for one of the processes alone will reduce the number of “student-wait-days” by almost 50,000 days annually.  The front-line staff were engaged and elated that they we part of the process to identify and find solutions to bottlenecks and issues in their day to day workloads.  Success!!!! But after the session, the VP commented to me that “the (report-out) session was incredible….a group of folk who have not had a voice but that many have been quick to be critical.