Introducing Lean as an Operational Metamorphosis: A Case Study of Lean Culture Transformation at the University of Texas at San Antonio University Center




Romero Acosta, Clemente Andres

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The University Center (UC) in this study is a student union established in 1986. The dimension of its facilities is around 38,000 square foot. The operation of UC is distributed in six different departments which have to work in coordination on a daily basis. In this regard, good operational coordination and communication are required, but unfortunately these key factors to success were not observed. A lack of methodical way to solve problems, absence of proper ways of communication and a reactive culture were identified.

In this study, the author introduced Lean transformation as a methodology in order to enhance the operations. The implementation was divided in four different steps (i.e., Beginners, Early Success, Break Point, and Continuous Improvement). Each step aims at accomplishing specific parameters one at a time. A new framework named "ripple theory" is proposed in this study, which explains in detail how a lean culture transformation should be implemented in a not lean environment. The theory builds on the foundation of proven lean and six-sigma approaches such as PDCA, DMAIC and lean RACE method.

The preliminary results show that, in the beginner stage, a basic PDCA in combination with a visual factory and 5S can deliver significant impact that creates the momentum to start more complex projects and engage more people. Furthermore, the early success stage shows how the transformation keeps progressing with the creation of a standard system which imposes reduction of variability and ensures quality of the process by using the DMAIC approach. In addition, the third step, i.e. Break Point, is actually ongoing at UC when this thesis was completed. It is expected to lead the organization to a sustainable Lean culture for the continuous pursuit of improvement opportunities.


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Lean Implementation, Lean Services, Ripple Theory, Six-Sigma



Mechanical Engineering