The Lean goal is to complete successful projects that will grow into larger projects. We will ensure there is clarity and focus in everything we do. We will expand within the areas we have already completed projects to ensure the Lean concepts have been embedded in the culture. We have to remember this is JUST THE BEGINNING and that we have a long journey ahead of us. The goal is to keep an eye on the ball and move forward with a targeted, deliberative, well-planned approach allowing Lean to grow by success rather than by mandate.

We have Lean Practitioners who can schedule time with your workgroup to talk about the principles of Lean and guide your workgroup through an interactive exercise. Contact www.tqmi.com for more information.

Lean is different from past improvement efforts in several key ways. Lean:

• Takes a “customer service” perspective that seeks to optimize value delivered to the environment, the public, and the regulated community;
• Involves employees and external stakeholders in continual improvements and problem-solving activities;
• Deploys a rapid continual improvement framework that emphasizes implementation rather than prolonged planning;
• Seeks to reduce the complexity of processes; and
• Uses metrics and visual controls to provide rapid feedback to improve real-time decision-making and problem-solving.

Lean is not an initiative, it is a journey. We are never done improving, but are always looking for new ways to improve and better meet the customers’ needs.

Lean can dramatically improve the performance and effectiveness of agency processes in a relatively short timeframe. By using Lean tools, an organisation can expect to:

• Eliminate or dramatically reduce backlogs
• Reduce lead times by more than 50%
• Decrease the complexity of processes and eliminate unneeded process steps
• Improve the quality and consistency of work products and activities
• Allocate more staff time to “mission critical” work
• Improve staff morale
• Enhance process transparency to internal and external audiences

There are numerous examples of government agencies embracing Lean and generating notable results in terms of customer satisfaction, reduced processing time, and cost savings. The state government uses Lean thinking, tools and techniques to improve value for taxpayers’ money. It has been proven that Lean techniques are applicable to all aspects of state government.

Along with value stream mapping, kaizen events, and Six Sigma, agencies are using a variety of other Lean tools, such as the following:

• 5S: 5S is an improvement process involving five steps (Sort, Simplify, Sweep, Standardize, and Self Discipline) to create and maintain a clean, neat, and high performance workplace. 5S is often used to ready the workplace for future kaizen events and continual improvement efforts. Some organizations add a sixth “S” for Safety.
• Standard Work: Standard work represents the sequence of activities needed to perform a given operation. Improvements made during kaizen events are immediately documented as standard work to ensure that all employees understand and consistently implement the new process.
• Visual Controls: Visual controls are used to reinforce standardized procedures and to display the status of an activity so every employee can see it and take appropriate action. Visual controls are frequently implemented during kaizen events to simplify the workplace and provide visual feedback on process performance.

Value stream mapping refers to the activity of developing a high-level visual representation, from start to finish, of the process flow involved in delivering a desired outcome, service, or product (a “value stream”) to customers. The typical products of a two to five day VSM event are two maps—a “current state” map of the targeted processes (see photo below) and a “future state” map of the desired process flow—and an implementation plan for future process improvement activities.

Because value stream maps help people see not only waste but the source of the waste, they enable an agency to target future kaizen improvement events on specific processes or process steps in the value stream to help move the agency towards its desired “future state” value stream map.

Lean kaizen events enable rapid, breakthrough improvements in as little as a few days, while creating a continual improvement culture. Kaizen means “to change for the good of all” in Japanese. While Lean process improvement approaches were developed originally for use in the private sector to target manufacturing processes, there has been steady progress towards adapting these approaches for use on service and administrative processes. Public sector interest in Lean is increasing rapidly, fueled by strong improvement results and in some cases, economic hardship.

Lean is a management philosophy, a process improvement approach, and set of methods that seek to eliminate non-valued added activities or waste. The key principles of Lean are:

• Value is always defined by customers
• Respect for people
• Standardized and balanced work
• Visual controls to create transparency and team work
• Continuous improvement

Lean methods include kaizen events, such as accelerated improvement workshops, and value stream mapping workshops. It is often said that Lean is “common sense uncommonly applied.”