2nd Edition

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

ISBN 9780815379096
Published March 18, 2020 by Productivity Press
436 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations

USD $49.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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

View More



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.