Recognising waste in higher education institutions using lean thinking

Jacqueline Ann Douglas, Jiju Antony, Maria Vinceza Ciasullo, Alexander Douglas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The work focuses on translating the eight wastes of Lean for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), identify some examples of each waste and to propose appropriate Lean solutions to those wastes. To identify wastes within HEIs a combination of observation and cause-and-effect analysis utilising brainstorming were employed using a convenience sample of HE academic staff. Once all eight wastes were successfully translated for HEIs a range of examples were identified in both academic and support services, including excessive movement of people, over production of materials, excessive inventory and waste of human resources. Appropriate Lean solutions to the identified wastes include the use of 5S, point-of-use-storage (POUS), process mapping/value stream mapping and level scheduling. The cited examples come from a limited number of observations in only a few HEIs. More valid and reliable data would come from a more extensive sample of HEIs. In order to improve bottom-line performance in times of constrained resources HEIs can reduce waste and hence costs of poor quality by using Lean thinking and accessing, what Juran (1962) called, “The gold in the mine”. This can be done without reducing the level of services. Particularly in a recession, HEIs need to show that they are using government funding (public money) in the most efficient and effective way possible. Lean thinking can help achieve both these objectives. Previous papers on Lean thinking applied to HEIs have concentrated on individual processes such as curriculum design or student assessment. This chapter takes a holistic view demonstrating how Lean thinking theories can be practically applied across both academic and administrative areas of HEI operations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLean Six Sigma for Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practice
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781786348517
ISBN (Print)9781786348494
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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    Douglas, J. A., Antony, J., Ciasullo, M. V., & Douglas, A. (2020). Recognising waste in higher education institutions using lean thinking. In Lean Six Sigma for Higher Education: Research and Practice (pp. 21-38). World Scientific Publishing.