• Rod Morgan, Head of Faculty, RPM-Academy

Takt Time and University of Ottawa Convocation 2017


For those who have attended my training classes, whether live, instructor-led virtual or traditional “brick and mortar”, (www.rpm-academy.com), students will probably recall my opening remarks, “Lean is easy to understand but… darn hard to do!” Most of what is Lean, at least at a high level, can be summarized on one sheet of paper… the devil, of course, is in the details.

What I do love about Lean is that “once you get it”, you can’t help but draw from the examples life has to offer every day… evidence of the presence of “Lean Thinking” or the conspicuous absence of same.

I had the privilege of attending my daughter, Hillary’s convocation yesterday at the University of Ottawa, (go Gee Gees!). While attentively waiting for that brief moment where she, like the other five hundred or so graduates, hear their name called so they can proudly walk across the stage and receive their diploma, applauded by the audience for their achievement of an important milestone in their young lives, I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder what the takt time is for this process?”

I quickly did the math… the event started at 2:30 PM and was scheduled to end at 5:00 PM… another convocation was scheduled for later that evening. That translates into 2 ½ hours or 150 minutes or 9,000 seconds. When you think of time passage this way, you certainly begin to realize how quickly life can slip by and important moments missed.

Out of the 150 minutes, there is time spent on a series of welcome addresses by the Dean, faculty, Valedictorian, and keynote speaker. These additional activities, along with the “changeover” time lost while transitioning between each of the events and the closing address, consumes approximately 100 of the 150 total minutes, leaving only 50 minutes (3,000 seconds) of available time for issuance of the prized diplomas.

The process (student groups are congregated to the left of the stage); 1. Name called 2. Student walks onto stage 3. Shakes the hand of the Dean 4. Proceed across the stage to small group of other faculty members 5. Receive their diploma 6. Pose for photograph 7. Exit stage right

So, how much time is allowed for each process step? The takt time calculation is quite simple;

Takt time = Available time / Demand.

In this case, 3,000 seconds / 500 students = 6 seconds per graduating student.

We learn early in Lean that to enable flow, work must be “leveled” such that each process (step) must take the same amount of time and that cycle time should meet the takt time. Do this well and you can achieve continuous, “single-piece flow” and no bottlenecks.

BATCHING? Of course, we are overlooking the “batching” of the students into one, large convocation ceremony, but that is a discussion for another date.

I am sure that the University of Ottawa is not thinking “Lean”. At an average cost of $6,400 tuition per year, or $26,000 for a four-year degree (http://www.univcan.ca/universities/facts-and-stats/tuition-fees-by-university/), and added to that, costs and housing/living expenses, the price tag grows to $60,000 or more by the end of four years! This can put the opportunity for higher education out of the reach of many young people as the Dean and faculty were reminded by the eloquent and insightful speech given by the Valedictorian, Mr. Hadi Wess, President of the Student Federation.

Back to our takt time. On the surface, the convocation went off without a hitch… Well, maybe with the exception of a graduate getting “hitched” on stage… a surprise for her as well as the audience as a formal marriage proposal provided a momentary happy distraction from the more serious proceedings. I suspect that provisions were made in the schedule for the ceremony and as such, the available time “calculations” were adjusted accordingly. CBC news reported on this special moment: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/public-proposal-university-of-ottawa-1.4166763. No pressure kids, but that marriage had better last! The nation is watching you, ha ha.

The team did a great job in keeping up with the takt time and the ceremony ended on time, if not a few minutes early. The excited students, diplomas in hand, walked out to greet their respective families and begin to ponder that important question… “Now, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

Congratulations to all of the graduates of the University of Ottawa Class of 2017. It’s up to you to make this world a better place and we wish all of you the very best of health, happiness and success in this next chapter in your young lives.

p.s. If you want to acquire Certification in Lean methods and tools to augment the tremendous talent and energy you have to offer future employers and society as a whole, I invite you to join our Fall 2017 open enrollment, live, instructor-led virtual classes where you will receive an exclusive 30% discount on fees. Use coupon UOGG-2017 when you register. For more information, go to www.rpm-academy.com.


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Effective Process Management
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