Northwestern implements Lean Six Sigma for process improvement

Kate Martin | October 21, 2013

Process improvement model aims to lead positive change.

Northwestern Health Sciences University is working to continually embrace best practices and recently began implementing Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma is a business philosophy focusing on continuous improvement by understanding customers’ needs, analyzing processes, and establishing effective measurement methods.

By listening and responding to the voice of the customer, we will be able to solve problems hindering performance, have a common language and apply approaches for assessment and improvement. We will also have the tools to explore, gain efficiencies and lead positive change. 

At the end of August, Northwestern brought in Alisa Salewski to lead this effort. She brings more than 15 years of Lean Six Sigma training experience and project management in organizations including the University of Minnesota, 3M, and Optum Health. She is charged with training groups of campus community members to use Lean Six Sigma steps to improve key processes.

One group that has already seen this firsthand, is the Ambassadors group. This pilot group received a crash course in Lean Six Sigma as they worked through a real project. This group included: Lisa Franczak (Human Resources), Chris Frazier (Chief of Staff), Kathryn Grimes (Marketing), Dale Healey (Undergraduate Health Sciences), Don Klingel (IT), Kate Martin (Marketing) and Jacklyn Sanford (Alumni Relations).

Staff and faculty members will have the opportunity to participate in Six Sigma training. Participants will be trained and certified in leading positive changes as well as have the option for national recognition in Six Sigma. A framework for clinics and partners is also being developed and will be available in early 2014. 

The first training session is in progress now. Additional training dates are being scheduled over the next few months and a training calendar will soon be available. The first session will coincide with the completion of the Audacious Leap Groups, in order to funnel those results into divisions’ 90-day work plans. 

Interested in learning more? Contact any of the above mentioned Ambassadors or Alisa Salewski, Six Sigma Leader at or ext. 266.

Back to Top