How to Apply Lean Six Sigma at Schools?

“David, you have a very busy week ahead. Have you studied for those tests and exams?”

I was a bit worried. He had so much on his plate.

But even to come to this realization, was a journey on itself. As the week passed by and the situation changed, I found enough reason to write about how a school could benefit when applying the principles of Lean Six Sigma.

Principle #1: Customer Focus

First, asking David this last Saturday was easy. Getting the correct overview of his schedule for this week was not easy, because his school diary is not complete.

My son, David is a different student than I was back then. He is dyslectic. Focusing on what the teacher tells about what to do and when, is not easy for him to make good notes on.

When a school wants to improve their service (education) for their customers (girls and boys and their worried parents), they should understand that children like David may need some additional attention to make sure they have the correct notes in their school diaries about exam dates and times.

Teaching him to be self-supportive is good, but the teachers know their pupils and can decide when special support is needed.

Principle #2: Reduce Mistakes

After checking David’s diary we also logged in at the school website to check the test and exams of that week. The layout was not simple. Therefore we spent some time to figure out how it worked. There were many mistakes at the website when compared to David’s diary. Yes, I am objective here, because we checked the past exams against what was at this website.

Like every company, institute or organization, the school should be able to identify mistakes, faulty data, and defects in the output they deliver to their customers.

By applying Lean Six Sigma, the school could be aware of the accuracy of data: exams, content of the tests, times and classes.

Using the Six Sigma part of the methodology, you master how to identify and reduce mistakes in your own work and in others’:

Going even further: the layout of such websites should be easy to read – even for a dyslectic. ☺

Principle #3: Improve Delivery Performance

After some searching and hard work, finally we got the complete schedule for the week. David could start his preparation. And he had to do it fast. There were lots to do: English grammar, German words, Economy, Mathematics, Physics, a Dutch book presentation and History. As he was preparing day-by-day, the tests were cancelled one after the other. The teachers had no time for the tests they scheduled? What else were they doing?

The worst was the presentation on a book for David’s Dutch class. He prepared himself on King Arthur months and months ago but each time the presentation was postponed. So he had to prepare again, worry about it, get the book again from the library – and pay the late-return penalty.

You get the point: Schools – just like any other company – should work on reliability. Using the LEAN methodology of Lean Six Sigma, you learn how to make the operation go smoother, to not take unnecessary steps, no wastes, no unfulfilled promises. Schools should monitor the cancellations of test, exams and classes. They should identify the main causes and carry out improvements to see the decrease of those issues over time.

One of my private clients – a small machine refurbishing company – increased their on-time-deliver performance from 44% to above 90%.

How about yours?

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Make greater work.

Warm regards,


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