Streamlining Leadership Succession in Student Organizations

The 90+ student organizations at NEOMED form a key part of campus life. They help students discover personal and career interests, connect with classmates and professionals, and perform valuable service work for the community.

The staff members of the Office of Student Services wanted to help make these student organizations even more meaningful for NEOMED students, so Brian Butler, M.B.A., Sandra Emerick, Ed.D., and Ashley King, M.Ed., got to work to create solutions using the tools they learned through the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training.

“Student organizations involve a majority of students and are a key part of the University’s efforts to create transformational leaders,” noted Butler. “We wanted to take a closer look at our process to find what can be improved to help add to the overall student experience.”

The team used Lean Six Sigma tools such as the SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers), which helps the user visualize the inputs and outputs of one or more processes in table form; a cause-and-effect matrix; and a process map to allow the team to closely examine its current process.

After taking a step back, the need became clear: Find ways to streamline the leadership transition process for the student interest groups.

Easing the annual succession process

Each student interest group has a set of leaders that typically changes hands at the start of each academic year. Here’s why: Students join a group in their first year, assume leadership roles their second year, then usually step away from those positions during their third and fourth years, due to academic commitments. This leads to a challenge for the new leaders, who are tasked with learning and carving out their new role on top of the rigors of their academic workload.

“The students already have a lot on their plates,” stated Butler. “We needed to find ways to create a more efficient process for them so they can focus on their development in the classroom and as people.”

The Student Services team set out to do just that. It completed several student organization transition forms to inform new leaders of budget, bylaws, contact information, event timelines and more. It completed a student organization information database to help everyone stay organized. And it  developed t training sessions and materials for the new leaders.

“These trainings have already proven fruitful,” said Butler. “Many of the student organizations have been able to hit the ground running at the start of the year. It’s exciting to see these changes being implemented and clearly benefiting our students.”

Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and Green Belt training programs are available at no cost for NEOMED faculty, staff and students. Learn more.

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