The Lean Turnaround of the San Diego Zoo Global

A case study was conducted at the San Diego Zoo Global to provide a better experience for the visitors,  and a better life for the zoo animals by helping the organization into Lean thinking.

Some of the huge mammals at the zoo (that are hard to treat) were carefully examined for how to improve the well being of the animal without them being stressed out. This is where Lean thinking greatly helped the 1,200 staff with a better way to work, which led to five million annual visitors with a better experience, and 7,000 animals with better care.

After a lot of experimenting with Lean to get the right plan for the organization, the San Diego Zoo Global is striving to create a learning environment by moving people around the organization where the value travels. This includes breaking down silos, and cross-exposing people to different areas, which increases their understanding of the big picture and their knowledge. Other goals include developing leadership skills in everybody, and becoming a learning organization. This has become the clear focus, now that experiments and projects are being run independently all around the organization. This is proof that lean is sticking, considering how tough things were when it all started. For Jeff Foster, the Director of the San Diego Zoo Global, he couldn’t be more proud.