How a Lean Adoption Strategy for Public Schools Applies to Everyone


I'm happy to have played the role of host and moderator for a webinar that was presented by Harry Kenworthy titled:

How a Lean Adoption Strategy for Public Schools Applies to Everyone

The webinar is presented by KaiNexus. I think it's a webinar that, like the last one he did for us, will have lessons for people from any industry or setting. Click here to view the recording.

I recorded a podcast with Harry to preview the webinar (and you can read an edited transcript here).

He said, in part:

Harry: I think the common thing that we see throughout the country is people get exposed to the lean tools and say, “These seem to be really good, and they're effective, and it's easy for people to understand. Let's just do this.”

But the “do this” comes without real knowledge and understanding of what's required at the corporate level, at the agency level, or at the school system level of, how do you set up the infrastructure to support this? 

How do you get the top management team totally bought in and being very geared up towards implementing lean. What about a steering committee? What about coaches? What about who owns the effort?

All that aspect, whether this happens to be the Des Moines, Iowa school system — which has had very strong leadership with Tom Ahart as superintendent and Thomas Harper as the chief financial officer — but a lot of times, we don't see that kind of support at the top level of organizations.

I think that, by far and away, is the key. I think we can always say a high failure rate on lean implementations, but it's more of a failure rate of what management or leadership really hasn't done or understood what their role is. 

And not to steal his thunder, but these two slides about the lack of change management are really compelling (that's why I teach a workshop on the topic).

What can be done to prevent those failure modes?

You can listen to the two podcasts where I interviewed Harry:

And check out his book Lean Government NOW! : Increase Service, Capacity and Employee Engagement While Reducing Costs and Wastes.

And don't forget to check out the webinar recording.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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