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Monday, July 27, 2009 - Dr. Flumerfelt travels to Jamaica to present Lean thinking
Dr. Shannon Flumerfelt, director of Lean Thinking for Schools at the Oakland University Pawley Lean Institute, went to Jamaica for an inaugural event April 1 for school administrators in the Caribbean, island nations and South America. This was the first time school administrators in this area had gotten together in a national event.

"It was nice for the Pawley Institute to be a part of that," Flumerfelt said. There she put on a four hour Lean workshop, which she said helped the audience understand value in process or service and was enlightening for them.

"There are many difficult decisions that administrators have to deal with," Flumerfelt said. However, they learned to develop a credo for who their stakeholders are, make their mission clear and get the school focused on that.

"They really did well with it and seemed to like it quite a bit," Flumerfelt said. The Lean presentation highlighted how to allocate scarce resources and maximize communication, which were areas of concern for the schools.

"Lean thinking gives them both paradigms and tools to help them improve in these ways," Flumerfelt said. According to Flumerfelt, this experience is also valuable for the Pawley Lean Institute to understand what's going on in different schools. In the Caribbean, there are many cultural differences. For instance, most of the schools are gated communities.

"There's a gate at the front, and the children are let out of the gate. They are really concerned about the safety of the children. It's really different," Flumerfelt said. However, the goal of the Pawley Lean Institute is to deliver and package ideas that can be applied universally.

"It is very interesting to understand what the issues and problems are in different situations," Flumerfelt said. "I think what we're looking for in Lean Thinking for Schools is to be scalable -- to be able to apply it."

Flumerfelt also noted another perk of the event.

"They had a wonderful student choir that performed for us at the beginning of each day," she said. "They were fantastic."

Flumerfelt also did an hour Lean presentation for the state of Michigan higher end executives May 14 at the Executive Assistants State Conference at Meadowbrook at Oakland University.

"I tried to explain to them how Lean thinking can change the way you think about your work," Flumerfelt said. She said she received comments from the audience about how they thought Lean thinking would improve their work and personal lives.