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The Next Frontier: Lean Government

by Daniel T. Jones
November 27, 2013

The Next Frontier: Lean Government

by Daniel T. Jones
November 27, 2013 | Comments (13)

Sometimes you get breakthrough insights by looking in unexpected places.

I recently visited Saskatchewan looking for a Canadian healthcare example for my keynote talk at the recent AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) Conference in Toronto. I heard there were good things going on there led by Dan Florizone, a charismatic hospital CEO who was one of the first visitors to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. He inspired other local hospitals to follow his example and was quickly called to become the Deputy Minister for Health (the top civil servant) for the Saskatchewan Provincial Government. Saskatchewan has about a million residents, which makes it a great place to do experiments.

Dan Florizone at the 3P mock up in the
warehouse at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Florizone's next step was to establish a Province wide Hoshin to involve everyone from the top to the bottom of their healthcare system, which is now in its third year. When I got there they were into the next step on their lean journey, designing three new hospitals from scratch using 3P. They brought three groups of patients and hospital staff together in a warehouse to map the flows through the hospital and come up with the most efficient layout and build full-size cardboard mock-ups of the different room layouts. The architects and contractors were there only to observe until the final layout was agreed upon! Then they worked as partners to design and build each hospital in record time. We drove past the hospital being built in Moose Jaw and it is striking how much smaller it is than similar hospitals elsewhere. This will deliver big savings in both capital and running costs. If you watch the excellent videos of their 3P exercise you'll get the spirit of what they are doing.

Here's the surprise. Two months before I arrived Florizone moved to become Deputy Minister for Education and Deputy Minister for Lean across Government in Saskatchewan. (He must be the first Lean Minister anywhere on the globe!) He took me to see the Province wide Hoshin outside the Premier's office in their rather splendid parliament building in Regina. The interesting thing is that this Hoshin is not organized by Ministry but rather around key policy objectives, like reducing violent crime, healthy weights, early years, aboriginal attainment, etc. Below that are the contributions of each Ministry to achieving these objectives. This is the first initiative I have ever seen at really joined-up government.

And it's not just at the top. I also met Dale McFee, a former Police Chief who is now the Deputy Minister for Corrections and Policing. He described the local action teams he set up across the Province to bring all the agencies together several times a week to review and act on local problems. These teams are able to focus help quickly and address the underlying problems of the few households that account for much of the petty crimes, absences from school, emergency admissions, etc.

Inspired by what I had seen in Saskatchewan I invited Dan Florizone to join me as a surprise guest on stage during my AME talk in Toronto. It was a great success. You can see and feel his positive energy watching the talk (as well as hear lessons from lean healthcare in Florence, Italy, and the UK). Dozens of people came up to me afterwards to tell me his appearance had given them hope that Lean might after all be possible in government! Two weeks later I invited representatives Solihull Metropolitan Council in the UK to describe their lean journey to UK Lean Summit attendees. They also serve just under a million citizens. They told a great story describing how they engaged staff to realize their work was about improving the lives of their citizens rather than simply "leaning" their services. The reaction of the audience was exactly the same as in Toronto: "This gives us hope that Lean can be done in government."

I get a real sense that Lean is about to take off in local and city government around the world, just as it did in healthcare ten years ago. We already have many pioneering experiments in place. The inspiration that will give this movement momentum is learning how to truly involve citizens and mobilize the activities that will truly improve their lives, rather than seeing Lean simply as a way of delivering services more efficiently. This in turn opens up many new opportunities for building truly connected, lean communities in the decade ahead. Exciting stuff and a certainly a new lean frontier!

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Keywords:  government
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13 Comments | Post a Comment
Irene Johansen November 27, 2013
1 Person AGREES with this comment
Fantastic! I'm next door in Alberta.  I don't see the Conservative government going down this road any time soon, in Alberta or the House of Commons in Ottawa. I do however see it getting traction in The City of Calgary and The City of Edmonton, mavericks all.  We are, after all, the people who elected Nenshi, the business professor who just looks for the best ways to do things, rather than consult his political agenda. Yahoo! (If you know about the Stampede City, you'll get the yahoo.)

Reply »

Daniel Jones November 28, 2013
That is precisely my point - start where you can closest to citizens. Then when results begin to show politicians highter up the food chain will take note. Yes been to Calgary (my sister in law lives there) and done the Stampede too. I am optimistic that we triggered a lot of interest across Canada with the AME talk - so we might be surprised how things develop there

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Jenni Huber November 29, 2013
1 Person AGREES with this comment

I am a Lean Leader at one of the ministries here at the Government of Saskatchewan and am excited to be part of this journey!  As many Lean practitioners know, it is never easy, but you have to start somewhere! 

I was lucky enough to hear Dan Jones and Dan Florizone speak at the AME conference, and I too hope that it has triggered interest about Lean in government.  This will help to build a larger network of Lean expertise in the field and create a greater opportunity to share lessons learned.

Reply »

Daniel Jones November 29, 2013
This is an incredibly important experiment - I hope the politicians have the courage to see it through. Yes let's build a wider network of the pioneers in lean government across the world to turn this into an unstoppable movement that will change the world

Reply »

JohnPod December 03, 2013
I never really understood the idea that more govt intervention was lean govt.  Sounds contradictory to me.  Why is govt needed in the health care industry at all?  How does it fit into the value stream, and isn't its function just pure administrative muda that could be completely eliminated?

Sure you can run lean experiments and show savings in wasteful activities.  It is still waste.  Is that really lean?   


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Daniel jones December 04, 2013
You missed the point - I am not arguing for more government but delivering more with the resources we have - whether they are public or private - the management issues in doing so are similar

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JohnPod December 05, 2013

Yes the management issues are the same.  Completely agree.  The question is if govt is needed in the value stream to deliver products and services.  Is that the lean model, is that the proper future state of products and services?  Is the govt needed to deliver the mail?  Its a philosophical question.  


Managing waste properly is still waste.  Lean 101.  i got that from you.

 

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John Knickel December 05, 2013

I don’t think we need lean in government. We need smaller government
and more private sector. Lean in government will only become a complex bureaucratic
tool that will add more red tape to all government process. I know the purist in
me tells me that we will never get smaller government and Lean in government is
better than no lean at all.

Reply »

JohnPod December 05, 2013

John,


Its like WIP, we know its waste, but its part of every value stream.  I just wish lean leaders would acknowledge this, instead of trying to pretend its not waste, and walk the political line of not really answering the question.  In the current system govt dictates to the customer who will provide the service, instead of acting as the protector of the consumer to choose freely.  Is this the lean wave of the future?  I would like to know.  

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Daniel Jones December 06, 2013
Whether governments should run things is a political decision based on ideology and beliefs and different communities will make different choices. Lean on the other hand is about fact-based empirical decisions about how to create more value using less time, effort, resources etc. Don't try to mixthe two

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JohnPod December 06, 2013
I guess you dont see the irony of that statement and the topic Lean Govt.  

Reply »

Harry Kenworthy December 09, 2013

Dan - we've been operating in the Lean government space since the early 1990's. With the advent of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, Lean in government has gained great traction.  There are great efforts going on in the US at the Federal (not as much) State and Local government levels.  Government web sites that are doing good work can be found at: http://leangovcenter.com/govweb.htm

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France January 26, 2014
This is a great Canadian accomplishment. The feds are also starting to look at Lean. With smaller budget and a demand for efficiency, Lean is one of the most powerful tool ( and philosophy) that I have seen

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