Operational Excellence survey aims to redefine campus workplace principles

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OCTOBER 07, 2012

UC Berkeley has opened a survey to its employees to craft a new vision for the campus workplace by having workers vote on various guidelines aimed at improving administrative efficiency.

CultureCal is an online survey open to the campus’s roughly 9,000 employees as a forum for identifying guiding principles for their respective projects. It is being orchestrated by the Berkeley Operating Principles team, which is a subgroup within Operational Excellence — a campuswide initiative that aims to reorganize various campus programs to cut costs. The survey went live online Oct. 1 and will continue through Oct. 12.

The project is a response to feedback from a number of campus surveys in which staff have reported that accomplishing administrative tasks is overly difficult, said Melanie Hurley, communications coordinator for Operational Excellence.

“The Berkeley Operating Principles project is really focused on the cultural side of improving UC Berkeley’s administrative operations … to help decide what kind of workplace we want this to be,” Hurley said in an email. “CultureCal is an intrinsic part of developing the Berkeley Operating Principles, which will be defined based on extensive input campus-wide.”

Campus employees can access collaborative software via the CultureCal website to “rate proposed principles, create new ones and promote their favorites,” according to a press release for the project. Kiosks will also be available on campus to allow employees to participate in person.

“Despite the outstanding efforts of UC Berkeley’s dedicated employees, many staff, faculty and students report that it’s often just too hard to get things done here,” a statement from the project’s website reads. “We currently have no unified set of operating principles or way of defining the organizational culture that could help us succeed.”

CultureCal is part of a larger effort by Operational Excellence to increase efficiency in the workplace. While this particular initiative seeks to define a work philosophy, other elements of the larger project will address the issue on a more technical level with efforts like the implementation of CalTime, an automated timekeeping system that will replace paper timesheets.

“Part of this is just to help update Berkeley’s efficiency,” said Bryan Alvarez, a campus doctoral candidate and student liaison for the project. “Hopefully, this will help bring together a unified vision of what the work environment should be.”

This is the first effort of its kind that operates on such a wide scale, Alvarez said. Upon the program’s conclusion, the chosen guidelines will be reviewed by various campus groups, and the final operating principles will be approved before the end of the calendar year.

The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business is currently the site of a project with similar goals. Its program, which is called Defining Principles, is aimed at creating a set of guidelines that will shape culture and education at the business school, said Tyler Wishnoff, president of the Haas Business School Association.

Wishnoff added that though the programs are aimed at different groups and are on different scales, both are “about making the workplace better through culture.”

“We make sure that students have certain values and hold them to a higher standard than their peers and redefine how the world does business,” Wishnoff said.

Sara Khan covers academics and administration.

Contact Sara Khan at 


OCTOBER 07, 2012

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