Monday, February 1, 2016

Five Professional Development Observations from 2015

As we leap over the threshold from 2015 to 2016, we enter into a new year of possibilities; these opportunities are revealed from our accomplishments of 2015. Here are our top five and what they reveal for 2016. 
  1. UNF Continuing Education served over 6,000 individuals in 2015, seeing the greatest training growth in healthcare, logistics, Lean Six Sigma, quality improvement and project management. Jacksonville stays on track with the nation, representing growth in these industries as business growth in general surges ahead for 2016.

  2. Professional development skills training saw an increase from last year. Professional development includes software, supervisory, time management, negotiating and other soft skills training which provide solid results. When businesses provide effective and affordable training solutions, they see the benefits and invest in their employees. For 2016, we are keeping training solutions affordable, expanding our online programs and building on our business partnerships for customized training solutions.

  3. The trend for certifications continues to grow. Our students earned the following certifications: Transportation & Logistics, Health & Wellness Coach, Instructional Systems Design, Paralegal, Lean Six Sigma and Warehouse Associate. Companies are seeking out individuals with high-level specialty knowledge. Niche-knowledge experts are relied upon to give companies a competitive edge over competitors slow to evolve to the individual-driven culture we see today. 

  4. Leadership development training increased in 2015. The economic downturn and the slow recovery were a harsh wake up calls for many businesses. Our Leadership Development Program provided the perfect mix of traditional and proven leadership practices with progressive, idea-generating innovation for providing real solutions to business’ biggest challenges.

  5. We strive to better serve those who have served us – our veterans. Funding is available for qualifying veterans for many of our programs. To help veterans take full advantage of the education benefits they have earned, UNF Continuing Education has a Veteran Education benefit specialist. Lori Frederick has been approved by the Veterans Administration to help veterans complete the required paperwork to certify their course enrollments. We have seen how our certification programs have helped ease the transition from military to civilian life. Contact Lori to learn more.
We look forward to assisting you with your 2016 training and consulting needs. Let’s get started. 

Visit us online,, select Course by Subject from the Quick Links on the right or view the information-packed pages using the menu on the left. Call our fantastic Customer Care Team at (904) 620-4200 or e-mail us at

Friday, January 22, 2016

Lean Six Sigma Means Less Work, Not More

By Keith Gardner

A common concern held by many managers, is that the introduction of a new continuous improvement initiative, such as Lean Six Sigma (LSS), could mean more work for them and their team. Now, not only will they be expected to manage the scores of other responsibilities, they need to find time to drive continuous improvement, further straining their scarcest resource -  time and people.

In fact, when implemented correctly, nothing could be further from the truth. Lean Six Sigma is not another "thing" that has to be squeezed into a day already full of more tasks than can reasonably be accomplished. Lean Six Sigma is just a better way to get many of the things that already need to be done, just more effectively and efficiently. That is, Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that managers and their staffs can utilize to better achieve the goals they already have and complete the tasks that need to be completed, outside the existence of LSS. 

All too often, we see managers operating under the misconception that they need to develop lists of LSS projects as a separate activity so that they have something for the Green and Black Belts to work on. This is normally completely unnecessary as managers already have lists of things that need to be done or process outputs that need to be improved; in fact, far more than they have any hope of actually working on. Rather than create the impression that we need to start brainstorming from scratch, just ask the managers where their “pain” is. What can we help with to make tomorrow better than today? With a few moments to separate which opportunities are well suited to LSS, the management team has a list of LSS projects in the queue.

Once priorities of existing issues is established, the LSS DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) methodology offers a structured methodology for solving the problems and reducing the “pain.” That is, rather than stumble and fumble through the continuous improvement process, follow a structured methodology that has been proven over 20+ years. The DMAIC methodology provides the organization with a clearly defined set of steps and tools designed specifically to increase not only effectiveness, but also increase efficiency. Effectiveness is not enough. Given that our scarcest resources are people and time, we need to ensure efficiency, as well. The LSS approach offers management teams the opportunity to get better results with less time and effort. 

The Center for Quality & Process Improvement at the University of North Florida offers a combination of training, consulting and facilitation designed to meet each client’s unique needs. UNF offers online and instructor-led courses, as well as contract classes, consulting and facilitation in in more than 40 topics all related to continuous improvement and enhanced organizational performance. 

For more information on how the UNF Center for Quality & Process Improvement can help your organization, contact Lori Frederick, program director, at (904) 620-5801 or

Keith Gardner has been consulting and training in the area of quality and productivity improvement for the past fifteen years. As the lead instructor, his primary focus at UNF is Lean Six Sigma. He regularly consults with managers and senior executives in the implementation and enhancement of organizational Lean Six Sigma programs.

Gardner has worked with hundreds of clients in 24 countries in telecommunications, logistics, health care, call centers, staffing services, governmental agencies, the military, engineering services, food, automotive, metals, electronics, chemicals and furniture. He has a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Michigan and is an ASQ-certified Black Belt.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lean Six Sigma Works on Everything!

By Keith Gardner

A common misconception used to be that Lean Six Sigma was only for manufacturing companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Lean Six Sigma is a methodology specifically designed to make processes better, and every organization has processes. Today, we increasingly see a variety of organizations embracing Lean Six Sigma as a way to improve their processes and improve their organizations. These include:
  • Service companies in fields such as healthcare, finance, logistics and many others 
  • Charities and other forms of non-profits 
  • Governmental agencies on a local, state and federal level 
  • All sizes and types of manufacturing companies