Before everyone left for spring break, the Swarm was the same old place that it always was. However, when we returned from break, it was as if the Swarm had undergone a complete transformation. That transformation was the result of Jeff McElroy’s Operations Management class. Austin Halls, Josh Waite, Jacob Soltis, & Gustavo Yanez Dabdoub were the students who presented the ideas to Sodexo from the class Kaizen project. “Kaizen” is a Japanese term that describes a philosophy of continuous improvement. The group went through the entire process, discussed ideas that could improve the Swarm, and then presented their ideas to Sodexo.
The original ideas were creating an express line, changing meal times or menus, online ordering, updating the layout of the Swarm, and adding a coffee bar. Not all of these changes were implemented, but most of them were completed over spring break and met with student appreciation. The few changes that are still being worked on for the future are online ordering, changing the layout of the Swarm, and a coffee bar. Austin Halls said, “I would say that this Kaizen project was successful due to the guidance we received from Jeff, the cooperation from Sodexo, and our class’ overall ability to diagnose a problem and address it through collaboration and innovation. To see our ideas put into place and to be successful is rewarding for not only us, but for Graceland as well. We all learned a lot from the process and it’s safe to say we’ve enjoyed seeing our ideas work out the way we hoped.” A huge part of this project obviously would not have been able to have been accomplished without the cooperation of Sodexo and their willingness to try new things and listen to the student’s ideas.
The express line is the biggest change. This line alleviates the wait time of students who are waiting for a snack item or something from the refrigerator. Before, these students would have to wait in line for the students in front of them ordering hot meals. Now, they can zip through the express line, grab their snack item, and save a lot of time. Layne Nowlin, a member of the GSG Senate who collaborates with Sodexo frequently, says, “the express line is super convenient and quick.” And when Layne announced the new meal times at house meeting, the idea of an earlier breakfast time at the Swarm was met with cheers from students who have eight-o-clock classes.
The Operations Management class is offered every fall semester and is an upper-level business course open to any student who is interested. They do a Kaizen every year and it is a great experience. If that sounds like something you would be interested in, talk to Jeff McElroy or any of the students who previously had his class. You will definitely gain experiential learning through this course.
If you haven’t already, go check out the awesome new features in the Swarm, and stay tuned for future changes.
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