An approach to improving capacity and
service while reducing wastes/costs and
increasing revenues called LEAN has developed over the last 30
years. LEAN was
first developed to improve the results and competitive advantage in
manufacturing companies. LEAN has since evolved to apply to service
companies, healthcare, utilities, non-profits, education and
LEAN focuses on what are the key
processes in all agencies, what services are
they delivering, and how much of what is being done is value-added (what
truly needs and is willing to pay for) vs. non-value added. It’s
not unusual to find improvement opportunities on the order of
of 50%+ where LEAN is applied. Areas where waste is found:
1. Handling/Unnecessary Motion -
Anytime we handle things, it’s non-value added.
2. Inferior Methods – How is work done? What is a better way?
3. Inspecting – Mainly in place to catch errors – non-value added.
4. Transporting/Moving – When things are moved, there’s generally no
5. Counting – An extra step to make sure things are right –
generates no value.
6. Delaying/Waiting – Slows down the ability to provide fast
7, Storing – Extra, non-value step, and storing’s partner retrieval.
8. All Rework Loops – To correct when things aren’t done right the
9. Multiple Signatures - The more signatures, the less scrutiny.
10. Waste of underutilized people – The greatest waste of all!
The 3 major underpinnings of LEAN
The Goal – What are
we in existence for? To deliver continuously improving
value-added services (capacity, quality
and speed of service) to customers (taxpayers) at lower costs.
Process Improvement –
Everyone should have an understanding of LEAN thinking in
order to be able to identify
key processes, how they are performing and apply LEAN tools to make
improvements in reducing costs/wastes
and enhancing revenues.
- People are
the Business – There needs to be a high respect for people.
A constant search for how to improve things and reduce
errors vs. who’s responsible for the error. LEAN tools, in
the hands of the workforce, can cause great things to
happen. An issue to resolve is what happens to the excess
people you don’t need due to LEAN. If doing LEAN equates to
job/layoffs, then LEAN will have a tough time succeeding
Innovative approaches such as focusing on attrition, early
out packages, teams to go after revenue sources, two tier
healthcare and pension structures, etc. need
to be considered up front.
When the people who work in the
process are brought together in Kaizen Events (usually full time, 1
week duration, waste
reduction events), they are able to quickly identify wastes and make
improvements, many times related to frustrations they have
been experiencing over the years without the ability to address
and/or correct these inefficiencies.
A major misconception about LEAN is
that with less people, services suffer. On the contrary, people
in processes that have gone through LEAN will be working on more
value added activities, have greater depth
and breadth of job responsibilities, have greater job satisfaction,
and they will accomplish much more.
LEAN is a CHANGE in the way things are
looked at and done. As such, resistance to change will be high and
strategies to deal with
this (ACE) are available. This is especially true in government and
LEAN makes a HUGE difference in lowering costs by being more
efficient/effective while reducing wastes.
LEAN increases capacity, customer service and satisfaction.