In April of the 2017-18 school year, several teams of DeWitt High School students conducted Kaizen blitzes as an assignment in the Creative Leadership: Opportunities for Social Innovation class taught by Jeff Croley. Jason LaFay, Michigan Lean Consortium member, and fellow DHS teacher designed an activity in which students would be organized into teams to investigate and document means to eliminate waste throughout the school. In order to better define what students should examine, several themes were established to guide the proposed improvements such as:
Additionally, student teams were assigned specific areas in the high school in order to avoid unnecessary duplication. Throughout the course of two class periods, student teams made ten proposed improvements. Many of the student teams prudently interviewed staff members on their suggested improvements. This helped students to better understand the underlying processes and value streams of different departments at DHS. Such knowledge gave students powerful insights into the overall operation of the school as a whole.
After students carried out their fieldwork, they created powerpoint presentations to document through photos (captured by their smartphones) and text of their suggested improvements by:
1. Stating the issue or problem (documenting the environment via photo)
2. Making recommendations for improvement
3. Providing a rationale for each recommended improvement
4. Projecting how the proposed improvements will impact the school long-term
Numerous students commented on how much they noticed items about the environment they previously took for granted. Also, many developed an appreciation for how improvement is a never-ending process that is only enhanced by using the ideas of as many individuals as possible. In other words, they realized quality improvement is everyone's business!
This is an activity that we would like to see extended throughout Michigan high schools. Perhaps, a Kaizen Bowl with competing student teams could be organized to make recommendations on improving quality in a participating business. Moreover, student/teacher presentations to organizations such as the Michigan Lean Consortium and professional development opportunities to share with other K-12 teachers and students can be other ways to expose young people to the power of lean!