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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Improvement in Unexpected Places is A Lesson for All

In this month's ASQ post Paul Borawski asks the Quality community to share stories of improvement  in unexpected areas. I am reminded a recent trip to my eldest son's classroom which is full of lessons. Many of those we seem to forget or even think odd when we get to the corporate world. What seems so simple we tend to push aside as ineffective. 

I am not sure how many of you have elementary age kids but I have 3 lovely kids that age. Every time I visit their classrooms I notice all the visuals. They use visuals throughout their learning process. Whether it is learning the alphabet, weather, time, dates, reading or whatever else the topic it is visual. Elementary classrooms are run very much like or Lean factories with regard to visuals and organization. The use of labels help the kids learn new words but also keep the classroom organized. Everything in a classroom has a home and everything is in its place. All the children know this very well.

On this recent trip I was reminded  of the importance of establishing standard work. If you want people to behave in a certain way or do something in a particular manner than you need to use standard work. Here is an example of standard work at my son’s 2nd grade class.

It is mounted on their desk in the top right corner clearly visible. The kids don’t have to remember all the steps in the morning routine because it is right in front of them. It gets the kids organized and ready to start learning without wasting any time.

Standard work is highly effective at establishing a means to do something that everyone can follow. It also makes it easy to identify when someone is not following the process. 
 Standardized work is one of the most powerful but least used lean tools.

I can't but think if a school teacher can use this technique to establish a morning routine for their students why so many managers feel weird doing so for their employees. Perhaps we have forgotten what we learned.  This is why I feel this example of quality improvement in an unexpected classroom is worth sharing.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own. 

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1 comment:

  1. Great post! Reminds me of Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade... lean fundamentals book that shows how lean is alive in
    a first grade classroom.