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Organizational Excellence

Project Facilitation

The Office of Organizational Excellence facilitates high-impact process improvement and resource optimization projects. Given the many opportunities across the university, project selection criteria have been developed in partnership with the Organizational Excellence Advisory Group.

How Improvement Projects Unfold

Most improvement projects follow a three-stage process:

1. Advance work to identify intended outcomes, define scope, decide who will fill key roles, and compile this key information in a project charter

2. Improvement sessions with all team members, guided by a facilitator

3. Implementation of improvements, including immediate changes, short-term changes (3-6 months) and longer-term changes

     Click below for detail:

This first stage sets up the project for success. It's led by the project sponsor(s) with guidance from the facilitator. Steps include:

• Define the project scope and intended outcomes
• Develop a charter for the project
• Gather initial information and data that can provide early insights.

The facilitator's role in the Advance Work: Guide the discussion to focus the scope and develop intended outcomes/goals • Guide development of a thorough charter

The improvement work gets done in a series of team sessions, all of which are guided by the facilitator. The work unfolds in three phases: Discovery, Possibility, and Planning.

Discovery Phase
Purpose: Achieve a deep understanding of the current situation

Depending on the project, activities can include:
• Review and fully understand the intended outcomes
• Gather and review existing items (systems, docs, resources)
• Gather stakeholder input, and draw out key insights
• Develop current-state process map(s)
• Gather and study data, to shine light on the current situation
• Identify process waste and value-adding steps
• With identified problems, identify root causes 

Possibility Phase
Purpose: Develop immediate, short-term, and longer-term improvements
Team activities in this phase can include:
• Generate potential improvements based on discoveries
• Assess ideas in terms of impact/effort, risk, etc.
• Calculate measurable “before and after” projections
• Build consensus on a package of go-forward improvements
    – Immediate changes, short-term (3-6 months), longer-term 
• Develop future-states maps and/or designs as needed

Planning Phase 
Purpose: Plan the implementation
Activities can include:
• Finalize the improvement set
• Develop implementation plans
• Finalize expected “before and after” impact
• Finalize plans

The facilitator's role in the Improvement Sessions:  Facilitate team sessions, keeping the team on track and moving forward • Provide guidance during and between sessions • As the Planning Phase ends, transition to the project manager(s) for implementation

Improvements are rolled out during this third stage. The facilitator has only a supporting role at this point; the lead work is done by one or more people who work in the areas where the improvements are being implemented. They serve as the equivalent of "project managers" to guide implementation. Steps can include:

Soon after the last team session:  Circulate a summary of the project • Include plans, projections, and future-state process map (for process improvement projects)

Ongoing: Use a planning tool (like a Gantt chart) to show all the planned improvement actions, point people for each, and time frames • Keep team members in the loop • Monitor progress and roadblocks • Take any needed actions to gain and maintain traction

At 30 days and 60 days: Convene team • Review progress relative to plan, projections, developments • Judiciously refine the plan as needed • Clarify next steps

At 90 days: Review progress • Discuss emerging factors that can help or hinder further implementation • Review action plans for the next three months 

The facilitator's role during Implementation: Offer guidance to sustain momentum and promote progress • Remain available to the project managers to answer questions and provide guidance 


Project Selection Criteria

Two categories of criteria are used to evaluate proposed projects, select projects for action, and establish priorities.

Alignment: The project aligns with our mission, goals, and strategic priorities as a university.

Data-Driven: Data is used to justify the project, inform the project, and measure results.

Results: Success with this project will bring significant improvement that benefits students, faculty, staff, and/or the university as a whole.

Advocacy: The project has an enthusiastic advocate who is eager to sponsor the project and move it forward.

Support: Among leaders whose areas will experience change, there is a consensus that improvement is needed.

Capacity: Staff are available to initiate the project, guide and facilitate, and fill needed project roles.

Organizational Excellence

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.