By Cassie Schoon, Performance Specialist, DEN Airport


Part of continuous improvement is to reach outside of one’s own immediate experience and view processes from a slightly different perspective. For myself and my colleague, Sue Holt, an opportunity came up last week to get that perspective, when we visited the “PI team” at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

On the face of it, DEN and the state’s Department of Labor and the airport might seem worlds apart. But when we visited Amy Perez of the department’s PI (Process Improvement) Team, we found that we had quite a lot in common. We both work in somewhat seasonal environments, with the Department of Labor seeing a spike in activity in the winter and DEN seeing higher-volume travel in the summer. We both have busy call centers. We’re both constantly navigating a sea of acronyms. And, most important, we all share a commitment to process improvement through employee engagement and innovation.

A unique feature of the CDLE’s process improvement effort is their Unit Facilitation Network, a group of individuals who are trained in Lean methodology and embedded in each area of the organization. These dedicated resources are the point people for all Lean projects for their units, in addition to their regular work functions. The Unit Facilitator Network meets bimonthly to discuss current projects and bounce ideas off of other facilitators. The process improvement team members serve to coach and mentor Unit Facilitators, and offer help as needed to bring projects to fruition.

In a cool and innovative move to wisely use state resources, the CDLE uses a free online resource called Trello to monitor and make updates to current projects, automatically communicating any changes or news to anyone involved in the improvement effort.

Using the Unit Facilitator Network and handy technological tools, the CDLE has made improvements that help unemployed individuals get benefits faster, more easily, and with less paperwork. They’ve found Lean ways to prevent fraud and improve the customer experience for employers and employees alike. We learned a lot from our trip to the CDLE, and we invited Amy and her team to come check out our trainings and see how continuous improvement works at DEN, too.

Thanks for having us over, CDLE! We hope you’ll come and see us at DEN very soon!


Cassie Schoon has worked for the City and County of Denver in finance, administrative, and process improvement roles since 2011 and has been a freelance writer for several Denver-area publications since 2005. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, gardening, and posting way too many photos of her cats on Instagram.

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