Six Sigma and Lean in Education by Nicole Adrian This month, the articles in Education Brief focus on two well-known quality concepts used in all industries: Six Sigma and lean. Six Sigma is a method that provides organizations tools to improve the capability of their business processes. Lean means producing the maximum sellable products or services at the lowest operational cost while optimizing inventory levels. In this month’s cover story, John Wilkerson writes about how he and a team implemented a lean pilot program in a classroom setting. Wilkerson, a lean Six Sigma Black Belt for a quality improvement consulting firm, writes about how successful the program was and how it resulted in increased enrollment and improved student satisfaction. Wilkerson also details five factors for a successful Six Sigma deployment, which includes refining the curriculum development processes, starting small and building on incremental successes. The five points of advice should help any educational leader implement a Six Sigma program. In another article, Karen Kusler writes about how the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) uses transactional lean principles to improve efficiency of processes. Kusler writes about how the method was applied to administrative services, academic affairs and enrollment management organization. Kusler writes that for the transactional lean implementation to be successful, staff at UCO had to become lean thinkers, therefore developing the ability to recognize, and ultimately eliminate, waste. Steve Pollock, director of quality engineering for Humana Inc.’s strategic consultancy department, and Aaron Evans, organization developer for Humana’s HR department, give examples of how lean and Six Sigma can be applied to education’s fundamentals and basic principles. Pollock and Evans explore two central ideas of Six Sigma and lean: Focus on customers and their needs, and reduce nonvalue added activities. The authors also note that it’s detrimental to an industry to not teach quality tools and principles to students before they graduate. These stories are just a few examples of how Six Sigma and lean have moved from being used not only in the manufacturing and service industries, but also to education. The articles highlight the importance of realizing the need to improve, applying the basic fundamentals of lean and Six Sigma and, maybe most importantly, exposing students to quality early in life. Also, please note two additional sources of quality in education news and information in this issue. ASQ’s flagship publication, Quality Progress, has recently launched a website that includes all education-related stories that have run in the magazine for the last 12 years. Additionally, the Baldrige in Education Network’s discussion board has been updated to include new topics, such as school performance management systems, benchmarking of support services and progression from state awards to Baldrige programs.