When thinking about bringing value to the public school system, you need to consider much more than just the students, administration, teachers or the curriculum. This is because school systems are incredibly complex, with most of them having features in common with traditional businesses. School systems expose a large number of opportunities for you to explore money saving efforts and process improvements through the adoption of Six Sigma to ensure that a well-rounded curriculum of academic programs is supported in the following ways:
Shifting Focus to the Customer
Public school systems need to meet the needs of a variety of internal and external stakeholders. These stakeholders can be considered the customers of the school system. The focus of a school system needs to flow through the various process pathways to reach the ultimate and most important customer of the system: the student.
The core idea of Six Sigma is to place the focus of all processes on the customer’s needs, wants and what they perceive to be of value. If you are to successfully provide value in the field of public education, you need to implement Six Sigma with a focus on the student.
Provides Gradual, Constant Improvement
The old fable of the tortoise and the hare could hardly be more apt than when it is used to describe implementation of Six Sigma within the public education system. Success is rarely achieved quickly or as a single “big bang.” It is possible to have a few quick, big wins on the way but, on their own, these singular breakthroughs are unsustainable over time.
The power of Six Sigma is that it gets tens, hundreds or even thousands of people within the public school system to make small and incremental improvements every day. With a large volume of small incremental improvements, it may appear that big things are appearing all at once.
Puts People at the Heart of Processes
People are always at the heart of Six Sigma. The principles involved in this methodology always ensure that they come first and it views them as some of the highest-value assets in the school system. This means that the public school system needs to have the capacity and willingness to teach all of its staff about the basic tenets of Six Sigma and then actively engage them in improving the value of education that is received by the students.
In addition, if you are to successfully implement the Six Sigma methodology in a public school setting, you need to have the support of all your people, since all processes are rooted in the school system’s personnel. It helps to keep in mind another Six Sigma saying: hearts, minds, then hands. The success or failure of any implementation will depend on whether people’s hearts and minds are engaged.
Gives School Leaders a Hands-On Feel
If you have read books or browsed through Six Sigma websites, it is inevitable that you have encountered a number of Japanese phrases and words. One of these, “Genchi Gambutsu” can be roughly translated to mean “go and see” but this does not fully communicate the real meaning of this powerful phrase. The implication, in Six Sigma terms, is that you need to get out and see what is going on for yourself.
A public school Six Sigma implementation requires you to visit school lunchrooms with kitchen managers or a nutritionist, take tours of different school buildings accompanied by the maintenance staff, or visit classrooms with teachers or school principals. The “go and see” mentality and sharing of observations are essential to success.
Six Sigma aims to reduce variation, increase quality and reduce errors, ultimately resulting in operational excellence and maximum value. School systems that make use of Six Sigma can improve their custodial staffing, processing of administrative tasks, save on time, reduce energy costs and reduce workload on teachers.