2nd Edition

Lean Higher Education Increasing the Value and Performance of University Processes, Second Edition

By William K. Balzer Copyright 2020
    436 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    436 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    436 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    In an environment of diminishing resources, growing enrollment, and increasing expectations of accountability, Lean Higher Education: Increasing the Value and Performance of University Processes, Second Edition provides the understanding and the tools required to return education to the consumers it was designed to serve – the students. It supplies a unifying framework for implementing and sustaining a Lean Higher Education (LHE) transformation at any institution, regardless of size or mission.

    Using straightforward language, relevant examples, and step-by-step guidelines for introducing Lean interventions, this authoritative resource explains how to involve stakeholders in the delivery of quality every step of the way. The author details a flexible series of steps to help ensure stakeholders understand all critical work processes. He presents a wealth of empirical evidence that highlights successful applications of Lean concepts at major universities and provides proven methods for uncovering and eliminating activities that overburden staff yet contribute little or no added value to stakeholders.

    Complete with standardized methods for correctly diagnosing workplace problems and implementing appropriate solutions, this valuable reference arms you with the understanding and the tools to effectively balance the needs of all stakeholders. By implementing the Lean practices covered in these pages, your school will be better positioned to provide higher quality education, at reduced costs, with efficient processes that instill pride, maximize value, and respect the long-term interests of your students, faculty, and staff.

    This second edition contains a substantial update with expanded material and reflects the significant growth of LHE practices in colleges and universities worldwide. Because of advances in best practices, as well as some modest research-based evidence, this second edition includes many enhancements that provide particular value to LHE practitioners and higher education (HE) leaders.

    Since the initial publication of Lean Higher Education in 2010, the challenges of cost and affordability, competition for students and faculty, and calls for efficiency and accountability have only continued to grow, requiring colleges and universities to pursue more radical and transformative change to ensure their success. This new edition provides a model for change based on more than 50 years of application in business and industry and almost 20 years in HE. It provides the information and evidence demanded by HE leadership to understand and embrace LHE as well as best practices processes and tools for implementing LHE in targeted areas or institution-wide. This book provides a conceptual framework for redesigning any university process, such as admitting students, paying a bill, hiring faculty, or processing a donor gift, in a way that delights the beneficiary of that process, respects the employees who support the process, and reduce the cost of the process.

    A free companion guide to this book is available here:


    The goal of this companion guide is to help you get the most out of your reading of Lean Higher Education. The guide is designed to support your deeper understanding and application of LHE whether you are reading the book (a) from cover to cover or select chapters; (b) reading it alone, as a member of a workplace reading group, or as a student in a classroom; (c) facilitating discussions of the chapters in the book; or (d) seeking guidance as you begin your own personal Lean Higher Education journey.

    The Case for Lean Higher Education

    The Need for Change in Higher Education

    Implementing Improvements and Change in Higher Education

    Lean Principles and Practices: An Approach to Organization-wide Change and Improvement

    Lean Higher Education: The Application of Lean Principles and Practices in Higher Education

    The Potential of LHE

    Lean Higher Education in Practice: An Overview and Case Study

    Higher Education – Falling Short of the Mark

    Lean Higher Education (LHE)

    An Example of the Application of LHE: The Freshman Move-in Process

    "Proof of Concept:" Examples of the Successful Application of LHE

    University of Central Oklahoma

    University of Iowa

    University of New Orleans

    Bowling Green State University

    University of Scranton

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    Getting Started: The Successful Launch of LHE

    LHE: University-wide versus Local Implementation

    Institutional Readiness for LHE: The Importance of Workplace Climate and Leadership Practices

    Creating Structure to Support LHE

    Selecting an LHE Initiative

    Organizing LHE Project Teams

    What Do They Really Want? Identifying What the Beneficiaries of Higher Education Value and Expect

    The Beneficiary Defines Value; The University Delivers Value

    Listening to the Beneficiaries of Higher Education: What Do They Value and Expect?

    Establish Metrics for Assessing What Beneficiaries Value and Expect

    Final Thoughts: Higher Education as a Monastery or Market

    Preparing Visual Maps for a Comprehensive Understanding of University Processes

    Preparing a Current State Visual Map

    Creating a Visual Map: The Approval Process for New Courses

    Eliminating Waste and Improving Flow

    Identifying Waste in University Processes

    Eliminating Waste from University Processes

    Improving Flow in University Processes

    Implementing LHE Solutions and Sustaining Improvements

    Identifying and Implementing LHE Solutions

    Sustaining the Gain: Institutionalizing the New Process

    The Approval Process for New Courses: Identifying, Gaining, and Sustaining Support for LHE Initiatives

    Realizing the Promise of LHE: Current Challenges, Future Directions, and Next Steps

    Challenges to the Broader Adoption of LHE

    Opportunities for the Broader Adoption of LHE

    Next Steps


    Bill Balzer has over 35 years of experience in higher education. He is a professor of industrial-organizational psychology at Bowling Green State University where he holds an administrative appointment as Vice President for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives. Balzer has served in a number of leadership roles at the university including program director of the nationally ranked doctoral program in IO psychology, chair of the department of psychology, and Dean of BGSU Firelands College. In 1996-97, he was a Fellow of the American Council on Education and spent his fellowship year working in the office of the president at Wayne State University.

    Balzer’s research interests include understanding and improving the application of Lean principles and practices in higher education, expanding the contributions of IO psychology to the understanding, application, and evaluation of Lean, and measuring and improving job attitudes and performance. He has participated in numerous university initiatives to improve university processes and effectiveness, and advises colleges and universities contemplating the adoption of Lean. Balzer continues to publish and present work on LHE. He has consulted with profit and non-profit organizations including Owens-Illinois, Citibank, Pennsylvania State Police, Merrill Lynch & Company, and Procter & Gamble.

    For more information, visit http://leanhighereducation.com or contact Bill at [email protected].

    Lean Higher Education is a must have for anyone considering implementing lean at their university.  It used to be that we didn’t have good examples of lean implementation in higher education.  That is no longer an excuse. Bill Balzer has done an excellent job of making the current state of "how to" (and how not to) accessible to everyone. 

    • Eric O. Olsen, PhD, Chair, Industrial Technology and Packaging Area, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, CA


    William Balzer is a highly respected author across the global Lean in Higher Education community. Anyone who has an interest in Lean in Higher Education or is keen to understand more about it should read this book.

    • John Hogg, Director of Continuous Improvement, University of Strathclyde


    This book is an invaluable resource for anyone practicing Lean in higher education. The new material is on the leading edge of what we know about how to successfully implement and sustain Lean in the complex higher education ecosystem. The emphasis on culture and building capability is spot on, and the resources appendix is a bonanza of helpful links for our Lean HE community of practice.

    • Ruth Archer, PhD, Director of Continuous Improvement at Michigan Technological University; Chair, Lean HE Americas Division


    Lean Higher Education broke new ground and helped defining the new field of Lean in higher education. This second edition is a valuable update especially with the extension into academic processes. The reader will find the book a rich source of ideas and inspiration. It is an essential source for everyone engaged in the improvement of education for the sake of our students and academic staff.

    • Dr. Vincent Wiegel, co-chair Lean & World Class Performance research group, HAN University of Applied Science, Arnhem, Netherlands.