I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, where I was fortunate to have an outstanding public school education (without the district, to my knowledge, needing teacher “pay for performance” or such silliness during the 1980s).
In the past year, I've heard of some initial training that a friend of mine in the Lean community was doing for the Livonia Public Schools. This consultant also, coincidentally, grew up in Livonia and I'm not sure he wants to be public about his volunteer role with the district or I would give him credit here.
My mother sent me the latest Livonia Public Schools newsletter, which includes a front-page mention of Lean as applied to their substitute teacher call-in process.
The entire newsletter can be read online (in PDF form).
The Lean excerpt:
I think defining Lean as “a systematic approach to continuously improving processes” is a good start. I'd be curious to see how a school district would apply (or could apply?) Lean as a broader management system, as many manufacturing companies or health systems would do (or aspire to).
The district has it correct that Lean is about “ideas from the people who do the work.” That's a big part of the Toyota “respect for people” approach. Lean wouldn't be effective if it was all about an expert coming in to tell people what to do.
The quote from the secretary is great – that Lean isn't a bandaid or a quick fix. I'd be curious to see how they gauge or measure the improvement in the substitute teacher process…
I'd suspect that Lean would be most applicable to support processes in a district – things like this substitute teacher process, in purchasing, in cafeteria operations, etc. I don't think Lean has a direct parallel to the classroom, other than some relatively superficial uses of methods like 5S.
Do you know of other efforts to apply Lean thinking and Lean methods into school districts?
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