This is my challenge to all governments, at all levels of government. Lean management really is a perfect fit for government!
We all know about the benefits of lean management when applied effectively in the private sector, well the benefits are greater and have far greater impact when lean management is effectively applied in government. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:
· Increased efficiencies through elimination of wastes in processes
In the private sector this results in a corresponding reduction in costs associated with the process which can result in increased profits when effectively managed.
Think about all of the government services that are under delivered. By eliminating the wastes from the processes used to deliver these services, the same resources can be utilised to either improve the current standards of service delivery or potentially deliver more services. Now that’s what I call a benefit! Not just to a few but to the entire community!
· Improved safety and quality
In the private sector, improved safety results in happier, safer and healthier employees while improved quality results in a better outcome or product for the customers. Both improvements also result in increased profitability for the organisation.
Improving safety and quality in government departments will also result in happier, safer and healthier employees which equates to stability. This will result in improved efficiency again! Improved quality will result in a happier community and once again, increased efficiencies! The cycle is never ending; when we do things right first time, we can move onto another activity; when we don’t get it right first time we have to return and perform rework, this is waste and annoys the community.
This is just a couple of the benefits of introducing lean management to government, there are many more and they all result in the same benefits; increased efficiency, happier employees and happier communities. There is no downside when managed effectively.
So how do we get to this future state? It really is simple, but it won’t be easy! We need to do two things together initially.
1) Bring in private sector expertise. Don’t skimp, bring in the best there is to infiltrate the system and challenge the thinking.
2) Leadership must evolve. Current leadership in many government departments is lacking lean exposure and is largely built of long term government employees. This is not necessarily a bad thing in moderation, however when not challenged by new thinking it results in group think.
These first two steps are critical to the success of lean in government. I apologise to all of the consultants out there, however we must bring the expertise in house. Consultants have their place to bring in specialist advice and delivery, however without the expertise in house we will not deliver effective lean management. Look around the world at the high performing organisations; they all have the expertise in house. Lean thinking must become a normal part of business – “the way we do things around here”.
The next big change required is the structure of the departments. We need to start looking at the services as value streams and structure the business units around the delivery of services rather than the departmental, hierarchical structures currently in place. This will result in the elimination of silos that currently exist.
All of this will have its challenges, but it isn’t difficult. What are you doing in your government department to make the change?