Category Archives: Education

K-12 Educational Reform

Educational Reform Failing K-12 Students, Educator Says [the broken link was removed] by Victor M. Inzunza:

Educational reform has failed to substantially increase K-12 student achievement despite a “massive expenditure of resources,” but the system can be improved if some of the concepts of the influential quality-control expert W. Edwards Deming are applied to schooling, said a former New York Department of Education official

it’s turned itself into a one-size-fits-all, mass-production system where the individual needs of young people are often overlooked to the detriment of their learning.

Applying Deming’s ideas to education is a challenge (it is not as simple as applying the ideas in another business – some additional thought is needed to see how ideas apply to education systems) but very worthwhile. David Langford has done some great work in applying Deming’s ideas to education.

Related: education related posts – Quality in Our Schools [the broken link was removed] – K-12 (kindergarten though high school) quality improvement links – Applying Total Quality Management Principles To Secondary Education [the broken link was removed], Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Sitka, Alaska by Kathleen Cotton [the broken link was removed] – Feel Bad Education [the broken link was removed] by Alfie Kohn

Western Trailers – Lean Manufacturing

Western Trailers improves efficiency – with some help [the broken link was removed]:

Western Trailers President Jerry Whitehead and a couple of other senior managers went through TechHelp’s lean-manufacturing course a few years ago. Now, the company is paying for all of the approximately 50 supervisors at the 225-employee manufacturing plant to go through a new and more intense version. “It’s just good manufacturing, getting the waste out,” Panter said.

There’s a need for greater efficiency, especially as companies get bigger, he said. Western Trailers built a new manufacturing plant in 1998 and expanded it last year. The company has added about 75 manufacturing employees in the past two years, Panter said. “With the rapid growth we had, it was easier to lose focus on the principles because we were trying to get product out,” he said. “This brought us back into focus. And it’s helpful to teach the people on the floor.”

I am much more interested in lean stories where waste is reduced and employment increases than where employment is decreased. The idea is to reduce waste, increase value to customers and grow.

Related: Idaho’s TechHelpWisconsin ManufacturingApplied Quality Engineering EducationTerex Handlers: Lean ManufacturingLa-Z-Boy Lean

Deming Institute Seminar

The Deming Institute is sponsoring, How to Create Unethical, Ineffective Organizations That Go Out of Business [the broken link was removed], 23-25 April, 2007 in Lansing, Michigan. I will be co-presenting the seminar.

Twenty-seven faulty management and corporate governance practices create most of the problems in any organization. These practices will be identified, and better practices recommended. It will be shown that as better practices are introduced, quality of products and services increases, costs decline, and you create a globally competitive advantage for your organization.

Learn how governance practice leads to the heaviest losses, how inconsistencies between policy and strategy create sub-optimal outcomes, how mismanagement of people leads to unethical and ineffective behavior, and how to overcome these problems. Study the theory and practice of management. Not quality management, not good management, not excellent management, not knowledge management, not risk management, not process management, not performance management, not supply or asset management, not technology management, not time management, not emergency management, just plain management.

Related: Deming Seminar and ConferenceDeming Institute Conference

The Georgetown Kentucky Way

The Scott County Way [the broken link was removed] by Jillian Ogawa:

It seemed only natural that Toyota’s corporate culture would influence the local schools, said Superintendent Dallas Blankenship. He estimated that one in three students in the school district have one or more parents that work for either Toyota or a Toyota supplier. The school district has had several partnership programs with Toyota in Georgetown. “Simply over time, we learned a lot of practices that have helped us to become a better school system,” he said.

Center for Quality People and Organizations:

The QUEST process consists of teaching students teamwork philosophies to learn current curriculum in all different subject areas. We provide a safe environment (parameters/ground rules) and a process for the students to conduct their groups using problem-solving techniques (PDCA: Plan Do Check Act)

Great. The Education area does require special care but management improvement concepts can work very well in education. David Langford has done some great work in this area as has Alfie Kohn. They are not focused on the Toyota Way but their principles and lean thinking go together well and there expertise in the education area is very important.

via: Scott County Schools Trying Out the Toyota Way [the broken link was removed]

Related: K-12 (kindergarten though high school) improvement resourcesarticles on quality educationposts on Toyota management methodsquality learning books

Performance Measures and Statistics Course

Performance Measures and Statistics Course [the broken link was removed] – free course materials from a 2 day training course by Steven Prevette. Topics include: Dr. Deming’s red bead experiment, operational definitions, selecting performance targets, SPC, theory of variation, case studies, control charts, pdsa, pareto charts, histograms

Related: Quality, SPC and Your Careerarticles by Steven Prevette

Applied Quality Engineering Education

Classroom projects translate into immediate workplace gains for working professionals in engineering [the broken link was removed]

In the final semester of his UW–Madison master’s degree, Bob Aloisi didn’t just earn a letter grade in his quality engineering class: He saved his company $50,000. It wasn’t the typical classroom outcome — but it wasn’t a typical classroom. As a student in “Quality Engineering and Quality Management,” Aloisi accomplished a major class project in quality improvement at his own workplace.

The project is the capstone experience in the College of Engineering’s award-winning distance-education program, the Master of Engineering in Professional Practice (MEPP) [the broken link was removed]. Designed for mid-career engineers who live and work all over the country, MEPP’s Internet-based curriculum strives to provide knowledge students can apply immediately at their companies.

“Our project was a very good example of the Kaizen approach,” says Aloisi. “It wasn’t one specific thing, a home run type of thing, that we changed to make our improvements.” Instead, his team met its targets through many small steps, including adjustments to equipment settings and better training for machine operators.

Good news. Related: Wisconsin ManufacturingImproving Engineering Education – Teaching Quality Improvement by Quality Improvement in Teaching [the broken link was removed] – The Lean MBA

Baldrige in Education

Superintendent’s method used by Boeing, Motorola [the broken link was removed] by Helen Gao

The three M’s – managing for innovation, management by fact and market focus – are unfamiliar phrases to most people in the educational establishment. But don’t be surprised if, in the coming months, leaders of the San Diego Unified School District start spouting corporate-speak. Management principles long embraced by companies seeking a competitive edge are making inroads in the public school system, as Superintendent Carl Cohn pushes the district toward “Becoming America’s best.”

When the training was over, one question on employees’ minds was: “Will the district follow through with Baldrige?” After all, other improvement efforts had come and gone.

Good question. I think the Baldrige criteria can help, but it is not the most effective strategy (it is too often just a surface attempt to apply some “tools” without real change). I believe improvement methods, strategies and tools can work for education but the education area has special factors to consider. I suggest the following resources: David Langford, Alfie Kohnbooks and articles by Kohn, Applying Lean Tools to University Courses, Ivan Webb’s School Improvement website [the broken link was removed], books on education improvement, k-12 education improvement links, Jenks Public Schools – 2005 Baldrige Award [the broken link was removed] – UW- Madison Office of Quality Improvement, Improving Engineering Education

Applying Lean Tools to University Courses

Take a look at an interesting series of posts on Applying Lean Tools to University Courses by Luke Van Dongen:

We have discovered that creating a common experience in the classroom is absolutely essential. To accomplish this we implemented a modified production simulation exercise and in doing so, bring the opportunity to Go & See to the students. These types of simulations are quite common and are usually done with building blocks or paper airplanes. We chose paper airplanes and created a simulation that we run with the class as part of our very first class session. The exercise takes about 4 hours to run, during which time students build paper airplanes in groups of 4 or 5.

Good stuff. There should be much more simulation in education in my opinion. It is effective, and as mentioned, can be used to tie concepts back to a shared experience. Some worthwhile articles on quality improvement in education: Using Systems Thinking To Improve Education [the broken link was removed] by Maury Cotter, The Trouble With “Back-to-Basics” and “Tougher Standards” by Alfie Kohn, Teaching Quality Improvement by Quality Improvement in Teaching [the broken link was removed] by Ian Hau, Applying Total Quality Management Principles To Secondary Education [the broken link was removed] by Kathleen Cotton, Using QFD to Design a TQM Course by Glenn Mazur.

Related: Suggested books for quality improvement in educationhigher education improvement linksprimary education improvement directory

The Lean MBA

Kevin Meyer recaps the ideas of Improving Management Education [the broken link was removed] by M.L. Emiliani in his post – The Lean MBA. I suggest reading his post and the original article.

In the Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog, The Future is Engineering points to 2 great essays on the secret of Silicon Valley. Guy Kawasaki puts it well, though in my opinion far to kind to our current MBA system (the inordinate focus on accounting does actual harm above and beyond the harm of ignoring what managers should learn):

If I had to point to the single biggest reason for Silicon Valley’s existence, it would be Stanford University—specifically, the School of Engineering. Business schools are not of primary importance because MBAs seldom sit around discussing how to change the world with great products.

Some previous posts here that talk about similar ideas: The Purpose of OrganizationsManagement Training ProgramPerformance Appraisal ProblemsFind the Root Cause Instead of the Person to BlameRespect for PeopleManagement Advice FailuresWhat is Wrong with MBA’sCommon Data Analysis ProblemManage what you can’t measure

Lean Education Meeting Slides

Presentation slides from the joint The Lean Aerospace Initiative [the broken link was removed] and LEAN joint meeting (October 16-18, 2006) are available [the broken link was removed – the links that relied on MIT to retain historical information using technology over the long term failed. It is sad MIT doesn’t understand how to manage information using technology more effectively. They really should learn how to do the extremely basic tasks of combining technology and management if they expect to be respected in that field it seems to me. It is embarrassing they are doing so poorly now.]. From Jim Womack‘s slide:

What Is Lean?
Lean = Purpose + Process + People
Purpose = solving customer problem while provider prospers.
Process = 3 primary value streams and many support processes, some involving customers.
People = engaging everyone touching every value stream to operate and improve it steadily (kaizen)
and dramatically (kaikaku)

Related: Lean Education Academic Network Spring MeetingLean Education Academic Network