Asking Those Who Do the Work to Reimagine the Work

Campus community brainstorms on how to operate more effectively at the culmination of the Organizational Excellence seminar series

The Organizational Excellence series culminated on May 26, where 350 people brainstormed ideas on how the campus can operate more effectively. In the photo Vice Chancellor Ron Coley explains the results to campus ambassadors.

About 350 people brainstormed ideas for how the campus can operate more effectively at a workshop on Tuesday, May 26, at the HUB as the culmination of the four-part “Organizational Excellence” seminar series.

Hosted by campus leadership, including the chancellor, the provost, and three vice chancellors, the workshop distilled ideas from previous guest speakers to help find a better way of doing business.

The ideas from the seminar series were distilled down to the following eight campuswide goals:

  • Streamline business processes.
  • Create a culture of collaboration and innovation.
  • Identify waste and implement efficiencies.
  • Standardize processes.
  • Provide ongoing professional development training.
  • Reward innovation (Even if it is not successful).
  • Empower people from the bottom up.

“A key thing that inhibits organizational excellence, more than anything else, is a lack of candor,” said Ron T. Coley. “A lack of telling it like it is.”

In answer to those who worry that efficiency means layoffs, Coley said that is not the goal, because UCR is already too thinly staffed.

“We are on the other side of the state’s budget reductions now,” he said. “What it will mean, though, is cross-training and empowering our staff for new roles.”

An OE ambassador group, made up of people working on the front lines of the business processes, is offering specific feedback on models that are working in organizations ranging from the University of Washington, the City of Houston, Texas, and Toyota, and how those techniques might translate to UCR.

An ambassadors’ lunch on Friday, June 5, gave Maggie Souder, the facilities coordinator from the Bourns College of Engineering, a chance to urge managers to allow those who do the work to be involved in the plan to fix the work. “For two reasons,” she said. “First, because they will be more invested in the process. And second, sometimes those boots on the ground know more about the process than anyone else.”

Coley responded: “I just have one clarification on that. ALL the time, the boots on the ground know more about that process.

Chancellor Kim Wilcox, Provost Paul D’Anieri Vice Chancellor Maria Anguiano and Coley were all there to thank the ambassador group for carrying the message.

“You are the vanguard of the revolution,” said Provost D’Anieri, who studies the politics of the former Soviet Union.

Already, UCR has started streamlining units so that similar functions are reporting to the same supervisor.

The Business and Financial Services (BFS) division reports to Bobbi McCracken, associate vice chancellor and controller. In a recent reorganization, she added purchasing, business contracts and equipment management to her previous units, which were accounting/payroll, student business services, and cashiers. The majority of those units are now located together at the Intellicenter (aka the UC Path building), six miles away from campus.

Bobbi McCracken, associate vice chancellor and controller, in the new offices of the Business and Financial Services, located at the Intellicenter. The units under McCracken's purview (purchasing, business contracts, equipment management,  accounting/payroll, student business services, and cashiers) were consolidated  here.

Bobbi McCracken, associate vice chancellor and controller, in the new offices of the Business and Financial Services, located at the Intellicenter. The units under McCracken’s purview (purchasing, business contracts, equipment management, accounting/payroll, student business services, and cashiers) have been consolidated into one office for efficiency.

“The open work space and low cubicles have definitely stimulated cross-functional conversations between staff and improved the understanding of how one process relates to another,” McCracken said. “Over the last 15 years, UCR has implemented many wonderful business systems to eliminate paper and improve processes.  Through the OE seminars, campus leadership is opening the doors to other innovative ideas that can create even greater efficiencies.”

Fleet Services has been folded into TAPS (transportation and parking services.) A more efficient operation means no increase in parking fees for the campus, which should be a relief to employees and students.

“We broke down the silos and work every day to make sure they stay down,” said Irma Henderson, interim director of TAPS. “Our employees are trained to give out answers to questions about all of our services. It used to be that if you were a bus rider and you had a question, the front counter person would have to say, ‘Hold on, let me get someone to help you with that,’” she said. “Now they just answer the question.”

An iRecruit portal designed by Computing and Communications has made posting jobs and reviewing prospective candidates more transparent for campus managers. Other improvements mentioned at the May 26th workshop at the HUB, include a new Student Information System, and even the Highlander One Stop Shop, implemented nearly eight years ago as a way to make student services more efficient.

“Change doesn’t happen because five people at the top say change,” said Chuck Rowley, associate vice chancellor of computing and communications. “It happens because we all buy in.”

Among the ambassador group for Organizational Excellence, people across campus have adopted the idea and are ready to help change happen. Sabrina Schuster, the financial manager for Architects and Engineers, said she is excited to see what happens next. “You have to risk in order to change,” she said.

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