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Lean Six Sigma Journey in a UK Higher Education Institute: Challenges, Projects, and Key Lessons Learned

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Engineering Management: Six Sigma, Data Modeling, and Risk Management

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

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Paper Authors


Jiju Antony Heriot Watt University

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Professor Antony is a Professor of Quality Management in the School of Management and Languages at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society(UK), Fellow of the Institute for Operations Management(UK), Fellow of the Chartered Quality Institute and a Fellow of the Institute of the Six Sigma Professionals. He has recently been elected to the International Academy of Quality. He is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and has trained over 1200 people as Lean Six Sigma Yellow, Green and Black Belts from over 20 countries representing over 150 organisations in the last 10 years. He has authored over 280 journal, conference and white papers and 6 text books. He has published over 80 papers on Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma topics and is considered to be one of the highest in the world. He is currently serving as the Editor of the International Journal of Lean Six Sigma and an Associate Editor for TQM and Business Excellence. He is the founder of the First International Conference on Lean Six Sigma for Higher Education. Professor has worked on a number of consultancy projects with several blue chip companies such as Rolls-Royce, Bosch, Parker Pen, Siemens, Ford, Scottish Power, Tata, Thales, Nokia, Philips, GE, Police Scotland, Glasgow City Council, ACCESS, University Sectors and a number of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

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Elizabeth A Cudney Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Dr. Elizabeth Cudney is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University, Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Business Administration from the University of Hartford, and her doctorate in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri – Rolla. In 2014, Dr. Cudney was elected as an ASEM Fellow. In 2013, Dr. Cudney was elected as an ASQ Fellow. In 2010, Dr. Cudney was inducted into the International Academy for Quality. She received the 2008 ASQ A.V. Feigenbaum Medal and the 2006 SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineering Award. She has published five books and over 50 journal papers. She is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, Manager of Quality/Operational Excellence, and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt. She is a member of the ASEE, ASEM, ASQ, IIE, and the Japan Quality Engineering Society (JQES).

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Lean Six Sigma is a powerful methodology for achieving process efficiency and effectiveness resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction and improved bottom line results. Although a number of manufacturing and service organizations are utilizing the power of this integrated methodology, Higher Education Institutions have been slow to introduce and develop this process excellence methodology. The purpose of the paper is to critically evaluate Lean Six Sigma as a powerful business improvement methodology for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Higher Education Institutions. The paper will explore the fundamental challenges and critical success factors encountered with the introduction and development of Lean Six Sigma in administration at a Higher Education Institution based in Scotland. The paper also illustrates examples of the type of projects completed by the staff members at the institute as part of the Lean Six Sigma journey. The final part of the paper reveals some of the key lessons learned from the projects as well as the future directions of the journey. This paper makes an attempt to remove the myth that Lean Six Sigma is confined to manufacturing. It also demonstrates through relevant existing literature and authors’ experiences that Lean Six Sigma is equally applicable to public sector organizations and, in particular, Higher Education Institutions. Although Lean has been adopted by a few Higher Education Institutions in the UK and abroad, very few Higher Education Institutions have adopted the integrated Lean Six Sigma approach for waste reduction and variability reduction, which leads to superior performance and enhanced student satisfaction.

Antony, J., & Cudney, E. A. (2016, June), Lean Six Sigma Journey in a UK Higher Education Institute: Challenges, Projects, and Key Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25527

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