Lean Government

Government is a bunch of hardworking people, trapped in dysfunctional systems, who produce invisible things for people who do not want them, on behalf of others who do, for reasons we rarely articulate and can hardly measure.

In other words, its a challenge. It means government has a capacity problem. It’s trying to do more with less and is struggling. The symptoms include:

  • rising costs,
  • slashed budgets,
  • failed IT projects,
  • critical mistakes,
  • low morale,
  • low customer satisfaction,
  • labor-management strife,
  • long lines,
  • huge backlogs.

–Ken Miller, Extreme Government Makeover

Lean Government builds capacity by:

  • Taking a customer-driven perspective that seeks to optimize the value delivered to the public and stakeholders,
  • Involving and engaging employees and external stakeholders in continual improvement and problem-solving,
  • Deploying a knowledge-based continuous improvement framework emphasizing implementation and experimentation over prolonged planning and analysis paralysis,
  • Seeking reduced complexity in processes and programs and reduced variation in service outputs,
  • Using performance metrics and visual controls to provide rapid feedback, enabling evidenced-based decision-making and problem-solving, and
  • Using systems thinking in achieving these ends.


Service Wastes

Some forms of service waste include:

1. Delay. Customers waiting for service, for delivery, in queues, for responses, not arriving as promised.
2. Duplication. Re-entering data, repeat details on forms, copying information, answering queries from several sources.
3. Unnecessary Movement. Multiple and repeat queuing, lack of one-stop, poor ergonomics.
4. Unclear Communication. Seeking clarification, confusion over product or service use, wasting time finding locations.
5. Incorrect Inventory. Stock-outs, unable to get exactly what was required, substitute products or services.
6. Lost customers. Failure to establish rapport, ignoring customers, unfriendliness, and rudeness.
7. Errors. Mistakes in the service transaction, defects in the product-service bundle, lost or damaged goods.