Value stream mapping in education: addressing work stress

Jan Riezebos*, Babette Huisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
106 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose Teachers of primary education experience high levels of stress but lack rational coping strategies to reduce their work stress. The paper develops a value stream mapping for education approach and examines its use as a rational coping strategy for teams of teachers and other employees to overcome work-related stressors. Design/methodology/approach The research process consists of two phases. First, a value stream mapping approach for education is developed, based on literature research. Next, the approach is validated in an action research study to reduce work stress of teachers in educational services. The processes that have been selected by the teachers relate to coping with increased variety, long and uncertain throughput times and unclear specifications. Findings Value stream mapping for education (VSM4EDU) is a well-structured improvement method based on principles of visualization, participation and process thinking, which helps teachers without background in lean thinking to analyse their processes. Using this method has enabled the team to develop rational coping strategies to reduce their work-related stress. Research limitations/implications VSM4EDU has been validated using action research at a single school, which implicates deep insight, but further testing at other schools is welcome. Moreover, VSM4EDU has not been used to develop a future state map. Practical implications Value stream mapping is useful in educational settings as long as the educational context is respected in the approach. Social implications VSM4EDU empowers teachers and helps to develop co-operation in teams. Originality/value The validation of value stream mapping for education is well-documented and original.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1044-1061
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
Issue number4
Early online date23-Sept-2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Educational lean
  • Continuous improvement
  • Work stress
  • Team development

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