Using Lean for Doing Good

The best businesses try to be good citizens as well as profitable organizations. I was pleased to read this week about efforts by Xerox to help nonprofit organizations, particularly since one of those efforts involves applying the principles of continuous improvement.

            Xerox just announced that it has granted six of its employees what are called “Social Service Leaves” this year. In this program, each employee spends from six months to one year working full-time to help a nonprofit organization. The employees, who continue to receive full pay and benefits during the sabbaticals, all work on different projects, and each project was chosen and designed by the employee involved.

            The program has been in place since 1971, with sabbaticals granted to 475 employees since then. Xerox estimates that about a half-million volunteer hours have been donated through the sabbaticals.

     The one this year that caught my eye is a project involving an employee named Cyndi Quan-Trotter (that’s her picture) – who is listed as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. She will spend a year with Antioch Adoptions in Redmond, Washington, which serves adoptive families, orphans and birth parents in the state of Washington. She will help improve administrative processes, manage the audit process and coordinate fundraising efforts to help the agency expand to multiple locations.

            As a parent who has been through the adoption process (though not with Antioch Adoptions), let me say that it typically involves administrative processes badly in need of improvement.

            One particular aspect of Quan-Trotter's project: To improve the communication processes between the agency and parents going through the adoption process, so with a touch of a button, the agency will know the status of any individual adoption without making multiple calls.

            My congratulations to Xerox.


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