Game Change LTD

Teaching Lean Six Sigma Principles to a 12 Year-Old: Making Complexity Child’s Play

Lean Six Sigma, a methodology famed for boosting efficiency and eliminating waste in business processes, may seem too complex for young minds. However, breaking it down into relatable, fun activities can introduce these principles to even a 12-year-old. Here’s how:

  1. The Lego Factory:
    Introducing Process and Waste
    Using Lego blocks, set up a small ‘factory’. The aim is to produce a simple Lego structure. Through this activity, show them how having an organized process can build the structure faster and with fewer mistakes. The blocks that aren’t needed represent ‘waste’.

  2. The Pizza Party:
    Visualizing Workflow and Bottlenecks
    Plan a pizza-making party. As toppings pile up or if someone is slower, it will naturally create a ‘bottleneck’. Discuss how rearranging the order or having extra hands (or tools) at specific steps can make the process smoother.

  3. The Game of Broken Telephone:
    Highlighting the Importance of Clear Communication
    A message passed through several people often ends up distorted. This fun game can highlight the pitfalls of poor communication, emphasizing the need for clear instructions in processes.

  4. The Puzzle Race:
    Continuous Improvement
    Give them a jigsaw puzzle to solve. Time them. Now, ask them to think about ways to do it faster or more efficiently. Maybe they could sort pieces by color first? On the second try, they’ll inevitably improve, illustrating the principle of continuous enhancement.

  5. The Paper Airplane Factory:
    Variability and Consistency
    Ask them to make paper airplanes using a basic design. Then, test whose airplane flies the farthest. Discuss why some didn’t fly as far as others and introduce the concept of variability. The aim is to make processes consistent to reduce variability.

  6. Storytelling:
    Root Cause Analysis
    Narrate a simple story with a problem, e.g., “Why did the ice cream melt?” Encourage them to ask ‘why’ repeatedly until the root cause is found. “Because it was out of the freezer too long” can lead to “Why?” and so on, mimicking the 5 Whys technique in Lean Six Sigma.

  7. The Savings Jar:
    Value and Non-value Added Activities
    Give them chores (processes) that earn them coins. Some chores will be necessary but won’t earn coins (non-value added but necessary), while others will directly earn them coins (value-added). This helps them understand the difference between tasks that add value and those that don’t, directly.

In Conclusion:
Teaching Lean Six Sigma to a 12-year-old doesn’t need to involve complex charts or statistical tools. By translating its core principles into playful and relatable activities, we can introduce these concepts in a manner that’s engaging and understandable for young minds. Who knows, you might just be nurturing the next great efficiency expert!

About the Author

Related Resources