Implementing & Sustaining Government Lean Initiatives to Increase Capacity and Service, while Reducing Costs




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 Government.
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 the taxpayer
truly needs and is willing to pay for) vs. non-value added. It’s not unusual to find improvement opportunities on the order of magnitude  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 value.

 5.      Counting – An extra step to make sure things are right – generates no value.

 6.      Delaying/Waiting – Slows down the ability to provide fast service.

 7,       Storing – Extra, non-value step, and storing’s partner retrieval.

 8.       All Rework Loops – To correct when things aren’t done right the first time.

 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 are: 

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 Losing one’s job/layoffs, then LEAN will have a tough time succeeding longer term. 
      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 working
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 hospital/healthcare environments.

In Summary:
LEAN makes a HUGE difference in lowering costs by being more efficient/effective while reducing wastes.
LEAN increases capacity, customer service and satisfaction.