Leaning Forward at OSU

Lean Process Improvement Initiative

Lean Cycle Image with Quote

Leaning Forward at OSU was started in 2014 to enhance collaboration in challenging assumptions and improving practices. OSU's Strategic Plan 3.0 calls for us to implement highly efficient administrative processes to enhance the student experience, improve faculty productivity and enable more resources to be directed toward academic success.

The Lean Process Improvement Initiative is a collaborative model that makes it possible to break down existing information silos. It provides unifying concepts, shared terminology, and an atmosphere of respectful communication, enabling project teams to review processes that cut across multiple university departments. Lean Teams are dedicated to addressing specific processes that have been identified as overly time-consuming or inadequately meeting the needs of the University, resulting in:

  • Increase productivity and efficiency while mitigating risk
  • Improve services valued by customers
  • Focus on increasing value of University processes
  • Implementation of processes which enhance the student experience
  • Redirect available resources toward academic success


We offer the OSU community Lean resources and tools that can be utilized by individuals or work-groups who want to streamline their own processes.


Background of the Lean Concept

The Leaning Forward program is based on five principles:1

  1. Define the value of the process from the perspective of the customer of the process.
  2. Identify the flow of the process, from both the customer and provider perspectives, to determine whether and how each step and activity in the process adds value.
  3. Eliminate the many types of waste that add no value to the process.
  4. Make the process flow smoothly, with activities or services "pulled" as needed by the customer rather than "pushed" by the provider.
  5. Pursue perfection through a combination of continuous improvement and radical transformation of the process.


1Balzer, William K. Lean Higher Education. New York: Productivity Press. 2010. Print.