May 17, 2016 - 8:00am

DREAM BIG 2016: Education Means Business for This Couple

Former Digital Content Intern


Led by a husband-and-wife team, LEAN Frog uses LEAN Six Sigma (LSS) principles to help public schools improve student services and optimize operations.

Southeastern Regional Finalist

LEAN Frog Business Solutions Inc.
Huntsville, Alabama
Byron and Sherri Headrick, Co-founders




Editor's note: The DREAM BIG award, sponsored by Sam’s Club®, celebrates the success of small businesses and honors their contributions to America's economic growth. The Small Business of the Year, seven regional finalists, and 100 Blue Ribbon winners will be honored on June 14 during America's Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.

Led by a husband-and-wife team, LEAN Frog uses LEAN Six Sigma (LSS) principles to help public schools improve student services and optimize operations.

How did the company get started?


What do you get when you mix Byron’s entrepreneurial spirit and management philosophy that cuts waste with Sherri’s passion for education? The answer: LEAN Frog.

It was a collaboration that made sense as the couple was looking for a new challenge in 2009. Byron was fully trained in LEAN Six Sigma, and Sherri, with her Ph.D., had worked as a professor before joining the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education outreach in underrepresented communities.

The company’s first client, a school district with more than $17 million in debt, was transformed in three months into a system having a surplus of $3.5 million.

 “LEAN Frog enables us to bring our expertise in business, Lean Six Sigma, and public education together and directly improve the lives of thousands of students,” Byron says.

He adds, “Our goal is not to catch people doing wrong but, rather, to understand and evaluate their day- to-day operations and help them find ways to be more efficient and more effective.”

LEAN Frog has transformed public education in the southeastern United States, helping schools do more with less. In the past six years, LEAN Frog—with 22 full-time staff in two offices— has saved school systems more than $80 million, affecting more than 230,000 students.

How is LEAN Frog giving back to the community?

“We named the company LEAN Frog because it represented the ‘lean’ in LSS, but mainly because ‘lean frog’ was the way our daughter used to pronounce the game LeapFrog.”                —Byron Headrick

LEAN Frog has provided LSS training and certification for free to those who are interested in learning about the system, and the company has donated $10,000 through its annual “Alabama’s Best K-12 Practices” contest that recognizes innovations. The contest is expanding to Tennessee this year.

In addition, the business promotes its pro bono work with some school systems, logging more than 1,500 hours assessing noninstructional areas. “Since we believe that schools, small businesses, and service organizations are the bedrock of communities, this is where we have committed our resources through sponsorship, training, and pro bono work,” Byron says.

What’s ahead for LEAN Frog?

LEAN Frog is working on a software system that would enable smaller school districts to use its services. The company hopes to grow to more than 50 employees in less than a decade and double its number of regional offices. It also wants to expand to enough school districts to positively affect more than
2 million students.

About the Author

About the Author

Former Digital Content Intern