Tag Archives: Education

Learn Lean by Doing Lean

In response to: Developing Your Lean Education Plan [the broken link was removed]

If you actually let the lean leaders practice lean management you are probably doing more to help them learn than anything else. Reading is great, but 10 times better when reading to find solutions you need to deal with issues you have in place. Same for going to conferences. Consultants can be a huge help, but if you just bring in consultants without allowing the changes needed to improve they are not much use.

Far more damaging than not approving training, or giving the lean leaders any time to learn, is not giving them freedom to adopt lean practices and actually make improvements in your organization. That is what kills learning, and the desire to learn.

A great lean education plan: give them opportunities to apply what they know. As they gain knowledge and have success give them more opportunities. I think often lean leaders (and management improvement leaders) have to spend so much effort fighting the resistance in the organization they don’t have the energy to seek out much new knowledge. If you can reduce the effort they have to spend on fighting the bureaucracy most lean leaders will naturally focus on learning what they need for the current and future challenges.

Related: Building Organizational CapacityHelping Employees ImprovePeople are Our Most Important AssetRespect People by Understanding Psychology

Out of the Crisis Seminar

I will be co-presenting an Out of the Crisis seminar for the W. Edwards Deming Institute next month, April 20-22, in Philadelphia.

Companies around the world are on the brink of destruction. When they get bailed out, or economies improve, they won’t survive if they continue to make products and provide services the same way as before, with the same style of management. They need to change.

It was the ideas of an American, W. Edwards Deming, that transformed Japanese industry after the devastation wrought by World War II. More than fifty years later, American businesses and much of the rest of the world find themselves in a somewhat similar position. Isn’t it time for American industry to wake up? Management practices need to change!

This seminar will help you work on transformation of management practices at your organization. It will show how current 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. You will learn how to overcome these problems and focus on creating a system of continual improvement, just as Toyota and other Japanese firms did some fifty years ago.

You may find more information and register online. I hope to see you there.

Related: Deming Institute Conference: Tom NolanLouisville Slugger – Deming PracticesCurious Cat Management Improvement Calendar6 Leadership CompetenciesDeming Conference 2005

Mississippi Plans Manufacturing Management Center

Ole Miss plans manufacturing center

Ole Miss plans to build a center to teach manufacturing management skills. Gov. Haley Barbour, Ole Miss officials and Toyota executives announced the $22 million Center for Manufacturing Excellence on Monday in Jackson. Construction of the 47,000- square-foot center could start this fall.

“We in Mississippi continue to have a larger percentage of our population employed in manufacturing than the country as a whole,” Barbour said. “One way to help our businesses innovate and stay successful is to give them world-class people to employ, whether it’s engineers or business majors or people who work on the line.”

By teaching principles of lean manufacturing, total quality management and just-in-time inventory delivery, the center will produce workers for many sectors including aerospace, electronics, technology and polymer sciences.

The center’s funding comes from the state’s $323.9 million incentive package for Toyota. The automaker is building a $1.3 billion plant in Blue Springs, about 50 miles from Oxford. Toyota reset the opening of the plant from early 2010 to May 2010 for economic and model-changeover reasons.

The center will offer four bachelor’s degree programs, two business-related and two engineering-related, all with a manufacturing emphasis. Barbour and Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat will appoint a board to create a curriculum and oversee the center.

“We have completed the building drawings and expect to be receiving bids shortly. I would hope that construction would begin this fall,” Khayat said.

He said he expects 20 to 40 students the first year, with enrollment increasing dramatically in the following years. Most of the initial students likely will switch their majors from engineering or business. The interdisciplinary program will include cooperatives and externships.

“We’re going to see an interesting marriage between engineering and business. We think it will be a model for the future of manufacturing,” Khayat said.

Related: Engineering Innovation for Manufacturing and the EconomyManufacturing Employee Shortage in UtahGlobal Manufacturing Data by Country (Feb 2006 post)Trends in Manufacturing Jobs

Internships Increasing

Hard to find a job, but not an internship

The bullish market for interns is good news for those in college, who find that internships are increasingly required for landing that first job. The summer posts allow students to bolster their resumes, learn more about their field of choice and meet executives who could hire them for full-time positions one day. And they often pay a good wage: on average, $16.33 an hour, or $7,850 over 12 weeks, Luckenbaugh said.

“Students are looking for internships even after their first year,” said Sheila Curran, executive director of Duke University’s career center, noting that 88% of Duke students graduate with at least one internship under their belts. “It’s become expected that you’d have at least one internship during college.”

Universities are also recognizing the increased importance of internships and are working harder to secure spots for their students, said Richard Bottner, founder of Intern Bridge, a college recruiting research and consulting firm. Some colleges are even requiring students to do at least one internship to graduate.

graphic of Deming Scholars internship cycle

The Deming Scholars MBA program at Fordham includes a heavy dose of internships [broken link removed] (“Subject matter is delivered in five integrated learning cycles. Five eight-week sessions of classroom lectures, seminars and study are linked by seven-week internships at participating firms”). Integrating well planned internships can be very valuable to improving learning. By the way if your company would like to host these students you can contact the program to discuss the opportunity.

Curiouscat.com has a web site for locating internships. I would love to get some good management improvement based internships added – there is no charge to add internships. For actual jobs try the Curious Cat Management Improvement job board.

Related: Hiring the Right EmployeesIT Talent Shortage, or Management Failure?Young IT Workers DemandsJoel ManagementThe Joy of Work

Systemic Workplace Experiments

Workplace Experiments

At our company-wide get together last December we decided that 2008 was going to be a year of workplace experiments. Among other things, we discussed how we could make 37signals one of the best places in the world to work, learn, and generally be happy.

Last summer we experimented with 4-day work weeks. People should enjoy the weather in the summer. We found that just about the same amount of work gets done in four days vs. five days.

So recently we’ve instituted a four-day work week as standard. We take Fridays off. We’re around for emergencies, and we still do customer service/support on Fridays, and but other than that work is not required on Fridays.

We decided that 37signals would help people pay for their passions, interests, or other curiosities. We want our people to experience new things, discover new hobbies, and generally be interesting people. For example, Mark has recently taken up flight lessons. 37signals is helping him pay for those. If someone wants to take cooking lessons, we’ll help pay for those. If someone wants to take a woodworking class, we’ll help pay for that.

Part of the deal is that if 37signals helps you pay, you have to share what you’ve learned with everyone. Not just everyone at 37signals, but everyone who reads our blog. So expect to see some blog posts about these experiences.

We just ask people to be reasonable with their spending. If there’s a problem, we’ll let the person know. We’d rather trust people to make reasonable spending decisions than assume people will abuse the privilege by default.

Dr. Deming proposed supporting education of any type for employees (point 13 in the 14 points). That is not often done, but 37 signals is not alone in doing this. Great stuff. Create a great environment for people to work in and you can get great things done. Also good old PDSA at work – try things on a small scale and then institute those experiments that succeed on a wider scale.

Related: Google Experiments Quickly and OftenVacation: Systems ThinkingGetting and Keeping Great EmployeesJoy in WorkComplicating SimplicityWorkplace Management

Learning Lean: A Survey of Industry Lean Needs

A draft version of Learning Lean: A Survey of Industry Lean Needs [the broken link was removed] by Gene Fliedner and Kieran Mathieson is now available. This voice of the customer report is product of some of those involved in the Lean Education Academic Network. Conclusions:

We studied what business practitioners think graduates need to know about Lean. Our results showed that practitioners are not concerned about specific technical skills. Instead, they want graduates to possess a systems view of organizations and value streams. Implications for Lean education and a broader systems approach to professional education in general, are considered.

I think it is an interesting read.

Related: Applying Lean Tools to University CoursesLean Education Academic Network Spring MeetingApplied Quality Engineering Educationvoice of the customer

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

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

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