The Dewitt Creativity Group is a united effort on behalf of the creatively-minded students at DHS to ensure continued innovation and expression in all forms.

DCG and Emergent BioSolutions Bring Lean to DHS

 DeWitt High School students in Jeff Croley's Creative Leadership: Opportunities for Social Innovation class learned how to create a process map for a 5 Why Root Cause Analysis. Chuck Wynn, a Specialist for Operations Excellence at Emergent BioSolutions was a guest instructor for the day of April 1, 2019. Chuck is well versed in lean management, overseeing quality in the manufacturing division of Emergent BioSolutions (a Lansing area based biotechnology company).

As the result of a Kaizen Blitz activity from last year, Chuck learned of the work of the Creative Leadership class - thanks in no small part to the Michigan Lean Consortium email newsletter! After several communications and a meeting, we decided to collaborate together to teach a problem solving method to Jeff's students. It has long been a goal of mine as a MLC member to expose high school students to ideas of Lean Management. What better way than to have a professional such as Chuck work directly with students to provide a basic overview of some Lean concepts?

The day of Chuck's presentation went exceedingly well! After a 12 minute presentation (Chuck had a student time him: how appropriate), that detailed the fundamentals of a process map to help identify the order and relationship between variables of a problem (along with the highly relevant example of the Flint Water Crisis) . Students were instructed to identify a process that either currently is producing positive or negative results. The goal of a process map is for students to develop disciplined system thinking to find solutions to problems or maintain a successful status quo. Here are the steps students were required to follow:


1.Pick an event (a problem; a result that was not expected; or something that went very well that you’d like to repeat.
2.Create a high-level “5-Why Chain” — no less than 5; no more than 7—to identify why the event occurred.
3.Create a branched Cause Map – do a “deeper dive”, going into as much detail as needed to identify all 1)the factors and 2)their interactions that contributed to the event.

Students were divided into groups of 2-3 to create their process maps. Some of the events they selected were:

1. Homelessness
2. Suicide Prevention
3. Problems with the school's drinking fountains
4. School related stress

Jeff and I circulated throughout the classroom to assist students. It was interesting to see the variables and their sequence on the maps. We encouraged/challenged them to think more deeply regarding the underlying factors of some variables that they failed to consider. Students were engaged and excited to visually represent relationships between variables. Upon completion of the task, students presented their maps to the rest of the class. Chuck pointed on how the students made assumptions that may or may not be true regarding their issue or problem. Students left the class that day feeling good about the activity and that it was well worth their time! Many thanks to Chuck Wynn, Jeff Croley, and the MLC for their support in making this event a reality.