Lean Six Sigma Journey in a UK Higher Education Institute: A Case Study


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the fundamental challenges and critical success factors in the development of a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) initiative within a UK higher education institute (HEI). The paper also illustrates examples of the types of projects completed and share some of the key lessons learned as part of the LSS journey.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors have initially carried out an extensive literature review on the application of LSS in higher education to understand the existing body of work carried out by other scholars in the field. This is followed by presenting a case study explaining how a HEI in the UK has embarked on its LSS journey as a process excellence methodology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of core and supporting business processes.

Findings: There has been a clear lack of support and commitment from senior management in the sustainability of LSS within the case study organization. There was a general lack of understanding of the benefits of LSS in the higher education context and there is a lack of knowledge on the use of LSS tools for tackling process efficiency and effectiveness problems across the case study organization. Although a number of LSS projects were executed across finance, administrative, and human resources, as well as IT and library services, no projects were carried out for improving academic processes such as teaching effectiveness.

Research limitations/implications: As the case study is limited to one higher education institution (HEI), the findings of the study cannot be broadly generalized. Moreover, the paper does not report the findings of any strategic projects as most projects were carried out at the operational level.

Originality/value: This is possibly one of the first studies reporting project examples of LSS in a HEI. The results of the study can also be used to benchmark with similar studies in other HEIs to understand the impact of certain management practices of LSS.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Case study; Higher education; Lean; Lean Six Sigma; Six Sigma; UK

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Article - Journal

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