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How does your school improve its processes?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by LeanProcessManager, Sep 5, 2017.


What approach does your school have to improving processes?

  1. Senior managers tell people what to do

    16 vote(s)
  2. New processes are developed together with, or by the people who have to operate them

    2 vote(s)
  3. Representative working parties are formed

    2 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Lean production was purely for manufacturing purposes and was sometimes known as "The Japanese Way" to minimise waste and maximise output in mass production, there was little if any regard for people, any respect for people would come from Japanese cultural values, that is not easily translated to education or indeed other cultures.

    From its inception the idea of lean production as developed by Toyota fitted in well with time and motion studies and Fordist mass production lines. In what way do you see Kaizen, Kanban, and JIT being a good fit for education?

    If you are talking about quality circles, then as you should know the system has no built in lead time for more meetings at any level.
  2. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    At the expense of exceptional individuality. When this is applied to music and entertainment in general, it kills off exceptional innovative talent and we end up with formulaic pap.

    I very much doubt that bands like the Beatles and the Stones would get a look in when changing the course of music history if they were starting today. They would have a team of experts micromanaging every aspect of their music, their appearance and performance down to how they dance, which incidentally, neither the Beatles or Stones ever did. They would just have been one minute wonder boy bands like all the other here today, gone tomorrow carp we've endured in recent years.

    The Beatles, the Stones and everyone from that era who not only made it to the top, but endured, did so because their individual talent was allowed to shine.

    There's clearly a misunderstanding that it's possible to get the best out of people by stifling their natural talent and forcing them all to follow a dictat dreamed up by people who don't have any inate talent themselves.

    Incidentally, the Toyota method revolutionalised car production through a combination of re-inventing the production line and rewarding production line employees who stopped the line when they could see things going wrong. The trick was about listening to what the workers had to say, then doing something about their concerns.

    The Nummi story explains how little General Motors management understood about the gift that Toyota had given them.

    Here's the truth:

    Good management is about enabling individuals to shine by treating them as individuals and providing what they need to make them successful and removing undue stress from their jobs.

    Bad management is about pretending you know better than the people on the front line, not listening to their concerns and loading them with extra stress.

    The notion that you can treat teaching in the same way you might treat call centre workers, by have them follow a script and a defined set of rules is anathema to educated people.

    There is no point in educating people to a level they can think for themselves, then telling them they can't.

    I remember back in the 70s hearing about a native American scientist who worked for NASA. He was regarded as an absolute genius in his field. Someone who at the time, NASA couldn't do without. But every so often, he needed to return to his spiritual roots. Wander the desert, doing whatever native Americans do. There was no timetabling when this would happen and there was nothing that management could do to prevent him taking himself off when he chose to, returning when he was ready. They realised it was something they had to put up with to get the best out of him.

    How do you organise lean process management to deal with individuals like him?
    peggylu, colpee, Lara mfl 05 and 3 others like this.
  3. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    If this is "Lean", I dread to think what "Fat" looks like.
    Geoff Thomas and Calpurnia99 like this.
  4. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter


    As far as I know (and correct me if I'm wrong), all this Lean, JIT, Agile stuff etc originally came from project management, and specifically software development. It used to mean something in those contexts. Unfortunately, entirely without hard evidence, someone decided that it would be good to apply these principles to absolutely everything. (As the saying goes: "when all you've got is a hammer, the world becomes a nail"). 'Lo and behold we have the current situation.

    I thoroughly recommend the book "Peopleware", by DeMarco and Lister. It describes in detail what makes successful software teams. The message within the book (to managers in particular) is pretty much:
    • hire good people
    • trust them
    • listen to them
    • provide them with what they want. For software development this would typically include quiet working spaces, decent tools, etc
    • do everything you can to shield your developers from corporate distractions - irrelevant meetings, tedious procurement forms, the need for "business cases"
    • let them get on with it
    That's all really. And as a result, you'll have a super-productive happy team, who will go out of their way to get your project done. And they'll want to keep you as their manager, and you'll gain brownie points from senior management.

    Of course it takes courage to trust people. You run the risk of being betrayed. The cowardly alternative is not to trust, and to micro-manage. Hey this sounds rather familiar...
    colpee and yodaami2 like this.
  5. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    As is often the case, Star Trek The Next Generation has covered this issue. Below is a conversation between the new captain (Jellico, Picard's replacement for this episode), and the existing first officer (Riker):

    Let's drop the ranks for a moment. I don't like you. I think you're insubordinate. Arrogant. Wilful. I don't think you're a particularly good first officer.

    As long as the ranks are down, Captain, let me say that I don't like you, either. You're arrogant and closed-minded. You have to control everything and everyone.
    You don't provide an atmosphere of trust, you don't inspire the crew to want to go out of their way for you, and you get everybody wound up so tight there's no joy in anything.
    I don't think you're a particularly good Captain.
    peggylu, lanokia and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Why isn't there a dislike option? Blimey!
    peggylu and install like this.
  7. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    A relevant question would be... do theory X managers or theory Y managers work best managing education in schools and does an autocratic leadership style from Government actually benefit long term developments and achievements in education.

    We have after all as classroom practitioners had rather a lot of autocratic and theory X management from all sides and I suspect that if we liken progress to economies of scale we can see the unquestionable improvement in output/attainment while improving "value" (allegedly)... to a point, however like the diseconomies of scale that eventually follow we have come up against the negatives of such hands on autocratic interventions and the resulting stagnation of improvement particularly compared to other nations. Thus it is in my view likely time to vary the management styles as befitting a well oiled "machine", but in relation to current challenges so to speak.

    I have to say I don't like the business analogy indicated (as I have said before on other threads in the past I don't think schools should be merely exam factories), but I have used them to fall in line with the OP terminology. Educating our young people who are potential employees and future leaders is not simply a process as any experienced teacher would knows. *I despair at how many times I have to point out that education is part of the social sciences not measurable and repeatable natural ones, how anyone can ignore the numerous variables is beyond me, thus I concur with the many other colleagues posting here.
    peggylu likes this.
  8. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    D'you know? It was back in the year 2,000 that I first took an interest in this website. As someone new to flogging stuff to schools, I wanted to see what I could find out about the teaching mindset.

    What I learned about the teaching profession, about the individuals who go into it and what they have to put up with on a daily basis, got me off to a good start back then. It was several years after my initial contact with this site that I signed up as a member.

    Seventeen years experience of this site has included some seventeen years experience of teachers' antipathy to pointless management initiatives. I don't think it necessarily takes a lot of b.ollox to flog this sort of b.ollox to schools, but it takes a level of stupidity we rarely encounter to try and flog it directly to the very people who loathe being micromanaged with the same passion that helped win Agincourt and see off Hitler.

    I think someone ought to be doing a bit of research on the membership of this site before making such an arrogant fool of himself.

    That's what modern day management is all about these days though, ain't it.
    peggylu, jomaimai, InkyP and 6 others like this.
  9. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Just had another look at this in detail. I despair.

    I'm not sure if you're aware, OP, but Process Name, Goal, Note, Pre-conditions and Post-conditions all had very definite meanings within software. E.g. something like:

    Process Name (ie "method name"): PrintInvoice
    Goal: Produces hard copy of invoice currently displayed on screen, on printer on Fred's desk
    Note: Code needs extending to work with all networked printers
    Pre-conditions - assumes supplied invoice number is valid. Routine will error if so
    Post-conditions - the InvoicesPrintedCount will be incremented, upon successful completion

    All this stuff evolved (out of a genuine need) because you had to spell out everything when writing software. Every single assumption has to be covered. When you missed something out, something bad would inevitably happen (e.g. satellites crash).

    Treating human beings as non-thinking instruction-executing computers is an utterly insane thing to do.
  10. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Let me help you out here:

  11. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Why? Surely a Lean approach shouldn't be limited like this.
    peggylu, colpee and needabreak like this.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

  13. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    That what George Formby did when leaning on a lamp, waiting in case a certain little lady came by.

    Personally, I thought he looked just like a tramp who was hanging round to steal a car, despite his assurance he wasn't.
  14. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    I had to look this up. How very naive of me not to know. It hadn't occurred to me that we were all being trolled, but hey, it's been worthwhile nonetheless I think.

    Perfectly put. Explains the arrogance of politicians in a nutshell. "We have to work harder in getting our message across", and all that. Never once is any thought given to "You know what, perhaps the content of our message is where the problem is here".
  15. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Lean may have led to the success of Toyota but I wonder if all the leaning on Japanese professionals in other industries by management is why Japan has a pretty high suicide rate.

    one of my cynical ruminations has a basis in fact.....great....

    Management are encouraged to think of students as 'cars' on a 'production line and teachers as the workers in a fishbowl environment......soon to be replaced by industrial educational robots ....in the interest of efficiency of course....
    Mangleworzle likes this.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Let's say the kids were up late because England (football) won the World Cup Final.

    Frankly they are just not in the mood to work.

    A good teacher doesn't just follow the process. A good teacher adapts. You might get bug all out of them that day but, if you replay match highlights, they will be more likely to cooperate with you from henceforth. Kids do respond to a bit of humanity. Funny, eh.
    peggylu, InkyP and Mangleworzle like this.
  17. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Did Hitler flee the field of Agincourt?
    I had to post it.
    Duke of York and EmanuelShadrack like this.
  18. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I've just found this thread and had my LOL moment reading that breakdown of how to organise a Parents' Evening.
    It reminded me of when I worked in Social Services and NVQs were brought in for supposed workplace training. We had an experienced chef in our staff canteen who used to do overtime on weekend banquets etc at County Hall.
    He was fuming that he was being made to prove his 'competencies' in the kitchen by being observed undertaking mundane tasks like making a pot of tea and using an electric carving knife. Someone less qualified than him would visit his kitchen with a ticklist and decide if he was doing things in the correct order.

    I would suggest that if someone actually needs that list given in order to be able to organise a Parents' Evening, they are singularly unsuited to being in charge of it.
  19. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    I'd also say that anyone who thinks that what teaching needs is a egg-sucking programme for grandmothers to gain an extra 1-2% efficiency on arranging a parents evening (even that is being unproven) is singularly unsuited to give any advice at all.
  20. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Indeed. How exactly do you quantify efficiency at such an event? Does it even matter if the tea/coffee is a few minutes later than scheduled because the catering staff heated more water in the urn than last time?
    How is anyone to know the optimum notice period for informing parents? Does it matter if some parents find out about it later than others because they don't open their emails every day or don't see their child every day?
    peggylu likes this.

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