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Monday, October 22, 2018

Guest Post: The Benefits of Applying Lean Management in Education

If there is a management concept that you need to know about today then it’s Lean Management. The question is how can adopting lean management optimize the learning experience of your students? Not only that, but how can your students themselves learn lessons that they can apply to their studies?

At heart it’s all about setting out process which take you from where you are to where you want to get to. And ensuring that everyone involved understands how that journey is going to take place.

You Can Adapt the Structure and Content of Lessons on a Rolling Basis
This point follows on naturally, and it’s something that many institutions could benefit from. By acting and then comparing the outcome to the intended goal you can see for yourself whether what you set out to do was actually achieved.

If not, then you’ll be able to find out why not. Perhaps it was always unachievable and needed to be broken up into more realistic intermediates? Or perhaps you went off on a tangent part way through and lost momentum? Lean allows you to answer these questions quickly and efficiently.

You Can Quickly Change Course When You Need to
The latest research shows that lean is a reliable way to correct mistakes and departures from the intended path. Not only that, but it does it quickly. The idea of setting things right at the earliest opportunity is something schools and students can both learn from.

If a student gets into the habit of regularly assessing the standard of their own work and evaluating their own knowledge then the chances are they’ll perform better under exam conditions. This is because they will have scrutinized their work in great detail several times before even putting pen to paper in the examination hall. When a practice test doesn’t yield the intended results it offers a chance to improve, not an indication that the student simply isn’t up to the task.

The same is true for schools and all other educational institutions. By continually assessing performance and feeding it back into a continuous cycle of improvement you can iteratively arrive at a much higher level of output.

You Will Make Better Use of Your Key Resource: Your Staff
One of the biggest advantages of lean is that you’ll be able to make best use of your staff. Check out sites like rated by students and it’ll become clear that the highest rated teachers are those that are used the right way.

By continuously monitoring progress and then feeding it back in, you can create a feedback system that moves things in the right direction. A key point is that lean allows you to be more agile and flexible than you otherwise would be. This means that if a new hire possesses skills your institution has been lacking you can adapt to this change in resources and feed it back in at your next periodic review. You may reassign certain duties and realign reporting structures to make better use of your new and existing staff.

This will also help your team achieve a better work-life balance as they’ll be playing to their strengths and getting through their workload more efficiently. Something that’s vital if you want them to bring energy and enthusiasm to the classroom each day.

You Will Learn Lessons Faster Than Others
As an institution or as a student there’s no better way to put your knowledge to the test than with a test under exam conditions. By forcing yourself to address flaws or gaps in your knowledge and performance you will be able to quickly identify the areas for improvement. This is the point at which lean really does come into its own.

By moving quickly from problems to solutions via a framework of incremental steps you can actually measure improvement over time. This then allows you to set in motion a process for continually minimizing weaknesses and gradually turning them into strengths.

Over time this iterative approach will allow you to create a wide and varied foundation on which to build. Whether this be the way in which you study for an examination, start a new elective module, or deliver the lesson itself, the fundamentals of the lean process are the same. It’s a process of continuous improvement that will take you as far in life as you want to go.

You Will Unite Learning Objectives With Learning Outcomes
Take this example of a lean school in the UK that partnered with Toyota. They were able to make better use of their staff and align their skills with their own personal teaching objectives. This created buy-in and allowed them to see a clear link between what they were doing in the classroom, and what the students were achieving lesson by lesson.

The process of tying learning objectives and learning outcomes together may seem like commonsense, but with so many daily tasks it can be easy to lose sight of. The lean approach allows teachers to strip away clutter and filler, and frame every lesson as a particular set of predefined objectives.

This not only makes their lesson planning easier, but it also gives students a clear reason as to why they’re doing what they’re doing that day. By having a motivation and a reason they are then able to commit to learning to a greater extent than they otherwise would be. Gone are the seemingly arbitrary tasks, definitions, and group projects. With a lean approach everyone in education is able to see a clear start and end point, linked together by an easily navigable pathway that takes them where they want to get to.

About the Author

Daniela is passionate about finding new ways for educational organizations to manage and allocate their resources so they can best meet the needs of their students. Her hope is that by opening up innovative practices to new institutions she will be able to help them meet the ever-changing demands placed upon them. In addition she is also a writer and editor at Topwritersreview.

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