Broad Institute


The Challenge

A highly regarded institute known for pioneering research of the human genome had reached a crossroads. Rapidly changing technology and growing demand for its genome sequencing services had hobbled day-to-day operations. Overwhelmed by congestion in its DNA samples pipeline, the organization’s average turnaround time for a sample had risen to 120 days. Fifty sequencing machines, acquired at a cost of around $1 million apiece, were operating under 50 percent utilization while staff scrambled to manage the chaos.

SG-fav ShiftGear’s Approach

ShiftGear initiated a major intervention aimed at improving the productivity of the genomic sequence operation by introducing Dynamic Work Design principles. ShiftGear focused on improving the configuration of laboratory operations and better matching that configuration to the humans doing the sequencing work. ShiftGear also implemented a “pull” system and other operational interventions within the institute’s core genetic sequencing process.

SG-fav The ShiftGear Impact

ShiftGear’s intervention returned dramatic results:

  • Reduced the number of process steps from 48 to just 17.
  • Turnaround times were reduced from an average of 120 days to just 12 days.
  • Utilization rates of expensive machines soared, improving from less than 50% to more than 85%.
  • The Broad Institute is now processing more than 1 million patient samples annually.