OSU Fisher College of Business’ Lean Six Sigma Students Improve Efficiencies for Social Enterprises

The Center for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) and The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business have partnered to match local social entrepreneurs with undergraduate business students for a Lean Six Sigma development initiative. This is the third semester of the partnership, in which students apply business operations management skills to benefit organizations in a real-world setting.

Clarfield Farm (Urban Farms of Central Ohio), Glass Axis, Habitat for Humanity MidOhio ReStore, HireLevel Auto, Hot Chicken Takeover and The Roosevelt Coffeehouse participated in the Spring semester of this initiative in an effort to increase their understanding of the benefits of a structured process improvement approach to their operations. This partnership also supports Fisher College of Business’ commitment to community engagement.

“Our students have been able to develop their business skills to benefit social causes,” said Cheryl Dickerson, senior lecturer, management sciences at Fisher College of Business. “In addition, students have been able to apply their skills in real-world settings, providing them with real project experience to share during future job interviews.”

The outcomes of the initiative ranged in terms of the areas of focus. Hot Chicken Takeover’s team recommended efficiencies to the inventory management process, creating the capacity for 47 additional management/employee coaching sessions per year. The team also recommended changes to reduce food waste costs by $2,580 per year. Habitat for Humanity MidOhio ReStore’s team improved pricing accuracy, creating the opportunity to increase revenue by up to $75,000 per year.


The Roosevelt Coffeehouse team recommended efficiencies to the closing process saving 84 labor hours per year.

“The Fisher team was able to determine our wasted motion and repeat activities that were leading to slower close times,” said Kenny Sipes, executive director of The Roosevelt Coffeehouse. “The result was to lessen those with a more structured and streamlined closing procedure that will save us labor hours and increase our bottom line. This then results in greater social impact.”

HireLevel Auto’s team made recommendations that would almost double sales and provide additional employment opportunities for eight youth.

“This is HireLevel’s second consecutive project with the OSU Fisher School of Business,” said Greg Rodgers, director of HireLevel Enterprises, a division of Central Ohio Youth for Christ. “The first project last fall was to improve the triage process and increase the number of quality, used cars available for sale at our HireLevel Auto social enterprise. The most recent project was designed to leverage the success of the first project to increase sales which fuels growth and leads to more employment opportunities for the underserved youth in our community.

“The business school students are very competent in Six Sigma process improvement methodology and eager to understand our business and apply their findings in ways that will deliver sustained social impact for many years to come.”

CSED continues to seek out partnership opportunities like Lean Six Sigma to advance the social enterprise sector. From the Lean Six Sigma partnership with Fisher College of Business to workshops and SE Catalyst, an eight-month immersion initiative for Central Ohio nonprofits who wish to develop sustainable, social enterprise ventures, CSED connects these businesses with the experts and environments for community-supported, entrepreneurial success. To contact CSED for more information about participating in the Fall Semester Lean Six Sigma program or getting help in other aspects of your social business, please send an email to [email protected].

About the Center for Social Enterprise Development
The Center for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) advances remarkably good businesses—businesses that intentionally integrate social impact as a non-negotiable component of their business model. CSED supports these nonprofit and for-profit businesses so that the entrepreneurs, consumers and beneficiaries of their mission-driven endeavors are all better positioned to prosper. From our workshops and accelerator initiatives to our community engagement efforts, CSED advocates for, develops, and funds businesses that solve social problems in our community.