When people hear the word Lean, they automatically think manufacturing and especially automotive manufacturing and dismiss it as a model that would add no value to their organization.  Unfortunately, they could not be more wrong.  A culture of Lean thinking allows the employees of a company to take ownership for solving their own problems using Lean tools or tools they design themselves.  Teachers and other staff need to see the value of buying into a somewhat different culture and way of doing things and this is the hard part.  My ultimate goal of have a Lean school and then a Lean system is to have all system resources, experience, expertise, effort and time focused on adding value for students.  As a staff, we are reviewing a book called “Everything I Know About LEAN I Learned In First Grade” by Robert O. Martichenko.  I am hoping to use the book as a sprinboard for discussions and learning Lean thinking and tools.  So far, I have being focusing on reenforcing and creating a culture where Lean can thrive.  Indeed, this type of culture would be great for student learning in and of itself.


About James Bond

I am a Lean educator who hopes to inspire and be inspired by an innovative school community where we all become Global Critical Thinkers Collaborating to Change the World in a Digitally Rich Learning Community Without Limits.

3 responses »

  1. Erik Hager says:

    James, Robert’s book is a good one. I look forward to hearing feedback from the teachers.
    There are many opportunities for Lean Thinking in Education. We just have to be able to do what we are trying to get our students to do. Be creative, innovative and be able to solve the problems and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them.

  2. Todd Goodman says:

    I agree that Robert’s book is a good one. Many of his suggestions are already a part of many schools, suggesting that they are incorporating some of the Lean tools in their practice.

    When I have explained the role of Lean in my daily workings to my colleagues, I have found that many focus more on the tools rather than the philosophy behind it (in retrospect, I realized that I, too, committed this same error). While the tools are great, without the philosophy behind it, they are simply tools trying to fix symptomatic problems.

    How do we change the culture of a school when the surrounding society reinforces so much of the opposite?

  3. kevin shea says:

    James –

    I got here from your posting in Linked-In

    I understand Todd’s comment about Tools, but in reality, that may well be the best way to proceed. In my implementation of lean (Ford Motor), we found that not all people warm up to philosophical argument or concepts, they prefer “the real thing”. Myers Briggs testing suggests that a large percentage of people would prefer a guideline(set of instructions) rather that a concept.

    To that end, what we did was to set up the lean framework that worked with the tools, then set up the lean structure within the tool. We made the tool real simple to use, and then encouraged use of the tool. What we did was use the tool as a doorway to lean. We controlled the doorway and thus, could influence the thinking. (we didn’t, for example, call something 5S, we interpret 5S for what we wanted, created something that the folks understood, and gave them specific “things to do”. After about a year or two, people begin to say, “this is the way we do things” — they learn.

    In the implementation, if people want tools, then satisfy that, BUT, provide the tools in a way that teaches or reinforces “correct execution”. By operating within the context of the tools, the lean lessons are gently applied. Think about helping people change in a way that they feel comfortable, otherwise you will have a fight on your hands.

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