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How Lean Six Sigma Can Improve Schools & Our Children’s Educational Experiences - GoLeanSixSigma.com

This year when my kids went back to school, I was saddened to learn that many of their after-school programs and in-school elective programs were being cut due to lack of budget. The arts program, the sports programs and many others were being reduced or completely eliminated.

Sending my kids to school to just learn math, history, science, social studies and reading is not good enough. I want my kids to have the opportunity to be well rounded, just like I was afforded the opportunity when I was in school.

Cut Programs or Free Up Budget?

Schools continue to say that they need to reduce the budget, but, what they really need is waste reduction. Instead of cutting programs, they should find ways to increase their budgets by cleaning up their inefficient processes. They can do this using a Lean Six Sigma approach.

Instead of cutting programs, they should find ways to increase their budgets by cleaning up their inefficient processes.

Lean Six Sigma introduces organizations, functions and individuals to a problem-solving process using a structured model called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control). This model ensures that identified problems are resolved by finding the root cause of the performance or process problem rather than just blindly jumping to solutions.

DAMIC - GoLeanSixSigma.com

When thinking about this for a public-school system, it is not just about the curriculum, and not just about focusing on the students, teachers or administration. School systems are complex systems, much of which have commonalities with traditional businesses. There are many opportunities to look at process improvements and money saving efforts so they can continue to support a well-rounded curriculum of programs.

Where Schools Can Look for Savings

Schools can optimize processes and save money by streamlining the purchase requisition and vendor management processes. There is a significant potential to remove inefficiencies in these areas that can lead to big savings.

Schools can also reduce costs and waste with proactive and process driven facilities management. This includes not only preventative maintenance but also energy management, technology integration, green and sustainable building projects.

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the cafeteria can ensure that staff orders right quantities of food and prepared in order to eliminate food waste.

8 Wastes - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Let’s Improve Our Schools Together

These are just a couple of examples to highlight the potential. All of these improvements require an understanding of who the internal customer is as well as their requirements. The next step is mapping these requirements to the current situation, identifying the root causes for the process or performance gap and then finding solutions which will improve the current situation.

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

Once the situation is improved, they can establish measurements to monitor and maintain the changes, including using a balanced scorecard. This is exactly what Lean Six Sigma can help with. It provides a foundation for not just problem resolution, but also elimination of waste and improved efficiency.

[Lean Six Sigma] provides a foundation for not just problem resolution, but also elimination of waste and improved efficiency.

I’d like to see all our public schools incorporate these principles and reduce waste rather than cut out the well-rounded programs that help our children thrive in this world.

Kevin Hanegan

Kevin is Vice President of Knowledge and Learning at Qlik. For over 20 years, he has worked in various organizations supporting learning, enablement, and organizational performance initiatives. He is also a part-time professor at both University of California Irvine and Oregon State and authors a monthly blog.