Continuous Improvement of the Student Experience
Nikhil Kumar '15
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 9:15am

In our Operations Management core class, we talked about the importance of continuous improvement – the concept of encouraging feedback and suggestions from employees to make processes and the work environment better. As our first year comes to an end, we’ve had the opportunity to put this model into action through formal discussions within our clusters and with the administration on how to improve the Columbia Business School (CBS) experience.

Each cluster had a lunch session with the Associate Dean and representatives from a variety of CBS departments (operations, technology services, academic affairs, etc). This open forum gave students a chance to touch on a variety of topics, such as exemption exams, wireless internet service throughout campus, and the food in the deli. We recognized areas where the school excels and made suggestions for improvement. The administration also spent time providing transparently as to why current systems/processes are in place and brainstormed with us on ways to continue improving the program.

Additionally, each cluster met to discuss the results of a diversity and inclusion survey that the entire student body participated in. The survey was designed to look at differences between students - such as gender, professional background, sexual orientation, etc. – and try to understand how those differences translate into varying experiences at CBS. These experiences could include willingness to participate in classroom discussion, behaviors at social events, or navigation of the recruiting landscape. In addition to looking at the aggregate data, students had a chance to hear from their clustermates about times when their backgrounds impacted their experiences at CBS. The goal was to raise the overall level of awareness and support of differences and diversity in the student body.

In regard to academics, the CBS Academic Committee is hosting a series of focus groups with first-year students to discuss the core curriculum, which went through several big changes last year. Students will be able to provide feedback on what worked well, what could be enhanced, and how students can take a more active role in improving the classroom experience for the incoming class.

In addition to having formal channels to communicate suggestions, continuous improvement requires a culture in which the community is encouraged to identify opportunities for change, brainstorm solutions, and work together to make things better than they are today. I’m grateful that CBS has focused on developing this kind of culture within the student body!

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