Business and Manufacturing Practices in Education. It’s not a new idea, but I’m not talking about treating students like a product. I’m talking about some business and manufacturing processes that can help with other aspects of education. I’ve written about this before, but covering different ideas.
United Technologies Corporation has a quality program called ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence)© that I used when I worked at Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky Aircraft. Every employee is trained on ACE and expected to use it. They have been using it for decades and it does work. ACE is a ”set of tools that helps the organization identify process improvement opportunities, solve problems and assist with decision making processes.”
There are some great ideas in here that can be used for education.
6S (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain, safety) and add Spirt (to continuously improve)
This is a method to keep things organized. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. It means that things are labeled and signed and people know where to find things. This could help in education with keeping classrooms, offices, supplies, and paperwork organized, clean and clutter free, along with allowing others to find resources when needed. It is simple – everyday, employees make sure that they are keeping their area clean and organized and that every thing is labeled and put away at the end of the day.
TPM Total Productive Maintenance: safety/lockouts, equipment cleaning/inspection, scheduled walkarounds, preventative maintenance.
Too many times in education we are only fixing things when they break instead of maintaining them. This includes computers, office equipment and facilities. There should be scheduled maintenance of all of these things to prevent issues.
Process Cert/Mgmt: make processes effective, efficient, & agile – while being controllable & standard.
This is a way of evaluating processes and making them work better. This would include how things are done, such as running testing, handling problems, organizing the school day, school schedules, etc. Instead of just having things being done as they always have, this makes people evaluate how and why they do things the way they do and if it is the best way of doing things.
Standard Work: work is simplified & structured for max consistancy, repeatability, and quality
This is a great idea for repeating tasks, such as school startup, state testing, assemblies, office procedures, and more. The tasks are assessed and the best way of doing the task is written down in a procedure. We could use this for the start of school as each year things are missed and have to be done last minute. It’s a great way to make sure that things are done the best way, every time.
QCPC: record turnbacks, investigate and eliminate reasons, RRCA: Relentless Root Cause Analysis and Mistake Proofing
I put these three together for education. QCPC is a way to track any problems, issues, errors, and the like so that they can be analyzed and the reason behind them found and fixed. RRCA is a way to look at a problem or mistake and keep digging to find the root cause of a problem. Mistake Proofing is a way of preventing the problem or issue from happening in the future.
An example would be that a student is failing a class. Why? He doesn’t complete his work and doesn’t come to school enough. Why? He has issues at home. Why? Because he is tired and sick often. Why? Because he works at a job all evening, 5 days a week. Why? Because his family needs the money. How do we fix it? Find a way to help the family so that the student does not have to work that many hours.
Market Feedback Analysis: improve product quality through use of data from customers, in-house.
This is something schools do in a way. They collect data on student performance and attendance. But what about getting actual feedback from the students on what they think about school, how things are going, what they are doing in school, how things could be improved? We should also be getting feedback from parents and the community.
(EH&S) Environment, Health and Safety – mistake proof, risk analysis, environmental impacts, safeguards
EH&S is about having a safe and healthy environment. Keeping things clean and in good repair, and helping to keep staff, faculty and students happy.
Six Sigma is another program, similar to ACE, that is used by many corporations in a similar way and it also has some great ideas that can be applied to education.
I think education can learn a lot from business practices, especially when it comes to quality improvement. All of these things can be used to improve things in schools, without treating anyone like a product.