Document 18026288

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
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.