Welcome to The Lean Professor blog!
I created this blog because I felt it was important to address a growing concern of mine: Nearly 10 years after my seminal papers on applying to Lean to higher education were published, hardly anyone is applying Lean to academic processes (teaching, curriculum development, etc.). I know the papers have been widely read by faculty. Why aren’t they applying what they have learned? What is holding them back?
While colleges and universities have begun to apply Lean to administrative processes, none that I know of have engaged faculty to improve academic processes. I talk to many people in higher ed, and the success stories they tell relate to getting a one or two faculty to participate in an administrative kaizen. That’s good, but the biggest part of the value proposition in higher education is academics. We need to start seeing faculty applying Lean principles and practices to improves courses, programs, and teaching. It would also be great to hear if any faculty have applied Lean principles and practices to research.
Unlike others, faculty are in a unique position with respect to academic freedom and classroom autonomy. We don’t have to wait for the leaders of our college or university to embrace Lean, we can move forward individually, as a department, or as a school. I particularly want ton emphasize the freedom we have to move forward individually. There are things that each faculty member can do to improve their courses, their teaching, and student learning outcomes.
If you are applying Lean to academic processes, then post a message and let everyone know. Share with us you challenges, successes, and failures. Higher ed is in a state of flux with respect to tuition prices, value, budget cuts, MOOCs, and more. There is much the we can do, we can have a lot of fun doing it, to improve higher education. So let’s get started!