Our first venture into Philanthropic organisations has been an exciting one! Read the case study below to find out about the work we did with a Philanthropic organisation based in the USA.


Setting the Scene: 

After delivering an interactive one-day ‘Introduction to Lean’ programme for the Philanthropic Organisation’s senior management, Mark Robinson (our Managing Director) was invited to facilitate a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) looking at their grant-making process.

A consultant-colleague of ours from the USA met with the client to orient staff in Lean principles and to scope the project using BOSCARD1.



To enable the Philanthropic organisation to source grantees and design grants, contracts and sponsorships that best allow them to meet their strategic goals.



From sourcing potential new grantees to designing the resulting grants.


Expected Deliverables

Three main deliverables were expected:

  • A documented standard process.
  • A communication plan to inform relevant staff and potential grantees.
  • A training plan for relevant staff.


What we did

The project team consisted of 30 staff members from the Philanthropic organisation, including employees from Finance, IT, Legal, Grants and Evaluation, and their Entrepreneurship group.

The RIE began with a brief overview of Lean concepts and what was to happen over the coming days. The team discussed and then confirmed Objective, Scope and Deliverables identified previously using BOSCARD.

The team then mapped out the Current State of the process using sticky notes, and as they did so, identified 318 ideas for improving it. These ideas were then categorised under headings such as Sourcing, Intake/Registration, Metrics, Staff Training and Accountability. Once all duplicates had been removed, the Team had generated 200 unique ideas that were then further refined.

After discussing the ideas, the project team created an Ideal Future State map, which shows a perfect process in a perfect world, where everyone knows what to do and nothing ever goes wrong. Then, returning to the real world, we helped them to map out their new grant-making process that incorporated the best of their 200 unique ideas.

The last activity was to create an action list the remaining tasks that were required to ensure full implementation of the new process. Responsibility for each action point was assigned to a team member for completion by the agreed due date.










The most tangible result of the RIE was a new 28-step grant making process. Compared to the original process, which was 85 steps long, this created a 67% reduction in steps.
Additionally, the team felt that the event was an excellent team building experience. They were very engaged throughout and developed an understanding of the aims of Lean and learned the process quickly. Leadership was committed to the RIE and its outcomes, which helped create a positive sentiment for change and the Team were glad to develop a shorter more efficient process.


The new process crested several benefits for the Philanthropic organisation, including:

  • A Consistent process followed by all staff.
  • Staff time saved, enabling more opportunity for value-adding work.
  • Accurate grant application data.
  • Improved service for applicants and grantees.
  • Adoption of Lean philosophy through organization.


Next Steps

A series of regular meetings were held to ensure completion of action items by the due date and the new process was implemented successfully.



Following the RIE, we received a lot of feedback from members of the Project Team. Some of their comments are included below:

“Attendees got good understanding of lean, why it matters, how it helps.”

“I thought the facilitation was excellent… Thank you for leading our team through this important exercise. Mark was a good facilitator, who brought the right mix of instruction, patience and humor to the effort, which helped make it successful.”

“I believe it is a great process and once the new steps are applied and adhered to the desired results will be obtained.”

“Overall, I would say this has been a valuable activity and I think we should consider applying it to other processes.”





The event was one of the highlights of the VP of Entrepreneurship, sufficiently so that it was mentioned in his farewell message as one of the accomplishments of his time at the organisation. He said, ‘[We] Streamlined grant making systems by reducing steps by two-thirds and significantly accelerating timelines.’




1 – see Robinson, M., BOSCARD: ‘A Scoping Tool for Lean Continuous Improvement Projects’ in Yorkstone, S (ed), Global lean for Higher Education. A Themed Anthology of Case Studies, Approaches, and Tools. Routledge. New York. 2020.