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LEAN Frog – Outsourced Continuous Improvement or How We Do It

 

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LEAN Frog has saved school systems in the southeastern United States over $80 million dollars over the last six years.  I am often asked by superintendents and school board members how we do it and what exactly we do.  These are good questions.  Honestly, what we do is very unique, not only in the Southeast, but also nationally.

Over the years, LEAN Frog has developed a proprietary approach to using Lean Six Sigma to help school systems save money while increasing the value of services offered to students, parents, staff, and communities as a whole.  Lean Six Sigma is a method of creating a culture of continuous improvement within your school system.  It focuses on improving both efficiency and effectiveness.  It means doing the right things, the right way, eliminating wasteful activities and reducing variation in schools and departments and in school system processes.  Unlike traditional approaches deploying Lean Six Sigma that focus on starting nearest to the customer, we have learned that the most benefits are achieved by starting in non-instructional areas.  This does not mean our tool set cannot drive innovation or problem-solving in instructional areas.  It is just that most often non-instructional areas have not been a focus.

LEAN Frog President Byron Headrick works with Oak Ridge Schools to drive improvements through facilitating the development of the Vision and Strategy for their 1:1 digital initiative.

LEAN Frog President Byron Headrick works with Oak Ridge Schools to drive improvements through facilitating the development of the Vision and Strategy for their 1:1 digital initiative.

 

Due to the No Child Left Behind laws, school systems have focused on improving instructional areas over the past few years, while non-instructional areas are often only addressed if a significant issue arises.  As a result, there are often significant opportunities to improve the level of service and reduce cost in non-instructional areas.  We find these opportunities, innovate solutions, and develop standardized, repeatable, and measured processes to ensure the innovations last through our proprietary LEAN School Management Services™.  This is a flexible, expandable service that fits school systems of almost any size.  We become your school system’s outsourced continuous improvement department, which allows you to purchase what you need as you need it at substantially less cost than hiring a Lean Six Sigma expert to be on staff.  This is more economical for your school system.  Our team has developed unique proprietary tools geared especially for K-12 public schools.

Here’s how it works:

ASSESS:  Our FREE Lean Opportunity Readiness Assessment® alone has identified over $15 million dollars in potential improvement opportunities for over 46 school systems.

The ASSESS Phase often begins with a client school system asking us to perform a FREE Lean Opportunity Readiness Assessment® (LORA) of up to three non-instructional departments.  As part of the LORA, we also conduct a Performance and Process Management (PPM) System Maturity Level Assessment™ and an Organizational Change Readiness (OCR) Level Assessment™.  At completion, we have a strong understanding of opportunities that may exist within your school system to save money or improve services or both.  We will also be able to identify whether your organization is ready to easily implement change and what approaches will best make improvements last.  This information is provided to the school system in a formal report.  Our FREE Lean Opportunity Readiness Assessment® alone has identified over $15 million dollars in potential improvement opportunities for over 46 school systems .

While the LORA does identify potential opportunities, it is important to remember that it is based on a snap shot of data and brief interviews with school system staff.  A deeper look may be needed prior to developing a Detailed Improvement Roadmap™ complete with detailed implementation recommendations.  Therefore, the Assess Phase often continues with Detailed Efficiency Reviews™ (DER) or Organizational Reviews™ (OR), or a combination of both.

The DER is our “deep dive” into the efficiency and effectiveness of a department’s internal processes.  This formal review process involves detailed analysis of data provided, interviews with administrators and staff, onsite observation of work processes as they occur, and workflow analysis.  We provide commendations along with practical, actionable recommendations, and a Detailed Improvement Roadmap™ that details how to implement the recommended improvements.  The detail steps for each proprietary DER is different based on the assessed non-instructional department, as well as the size of the school system.

The OR analyzes your school system’s organizational structure, communication channels, and performance management systems.  We provide recommendations for improved organizational and reporting structures along with job goal recommendations to promote greater accuracy, accountability, and alignment of resources.  At the request of clients, we also sometimes develop new detailed job descriptions and perform compensation analysis as part of the OR .

LEAN Frog team member Chasitie White conducting a Detailed Efficiency Review of Human Resources at Tuscaloosa City Schools.

LEAN Frog team member Chasitie White conducting a Detailed Efficiency Review of Human Resources at Tuscaloosa City Schools.

 

Either of these assessments may be performed for a single department/function, multiple departments/functions, or for the entire school system as a whole.  After completing these assessments, we will develop a custom Detailed Implementation Roadmap™ based on the school system’s resources, needs, and speed of change required .

IMPROVE: Our tools and experience allow us to implement improvements more efficiently and effectively.

During the IMPROVE Phase, we will support the implementation of our recommended improvements.  The level of support needed is flexible based on the needs of the school system.  This support can range from a single team member onsite one day per month to a team onsite one week per month to full-time support members onsite through the duration of the IMPROVE Phase .  We become your outsourced continuous improvement department.  Our flexibility allows you to purchase these services at a lower cost than you could hire a Lean Six Sigma expert or team of experts.  Our Lean Six Sigma experts at LEAN Frog have unique proprietary tools and approaches that have been designed over the last five years solely for the purpose of improving K-12 public school systems.  We call this the LEAN School Management System. Our tools and experience allow us to implement improvements more efficiently and effectively.

LEAN Frog team member Fred Kemp conducts Leader Development training at Huntsville City Schools to help staff sustain improvements.

LEAN Frog team member Fred Kemp conducts Leader Development training at Huntsville City Schools to help staff sustain improvements.

SUSTAIN: We help you lay the foundation for continuous improvement within your school system.

Once we have implemented improvements and laid a foundation for continuous improvement within your school system, we will begin the SUSTAIN Phase of support.  This is an economical maintenance level of the LEAN School Management Services™, in which we can assist your school system with the following:

  • Documenting and maintaining “best-in-class” procedures and key performance indicators
  • Training and certifying internal staff members to lead improvement projects
  • Developing stakeholder-driven strategic plans and/or annual improvement plans
  • Complying with state/federal monitoring and the re-accreditation process
  • Performing annual assessments to highlight new improvement opportunities

In the end, “how we do it” all comes down to working shoulder-to-shoulder with our client school systems in order to provide the most benefit to students, parents, staff, and communities .

 

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