First, check this out. Brad Wall, the premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, wants opposition leader Cam Broten to apologize for suggesting that people who support Lean government are like cult members.
So, Lean has become a political football in the normally congenial province of Saskatchewan. A party leader (a member of the party not currently in power) has accused incumbents of spending many Canadian taxpayers dollars on Japanese consultants to teach Japanese culture.
I have no idea if any of it is true.
But, it’s true that Saskatchewan public servants don’t need Japanese consultants to teach them Japanese culture in order for them to start using lean principles to improve services.
What they, whether Saskatchewan or any government employees, DO need is to apply lean thinking and practice to public service processes to deliver more value to customers, namely citizens. That means government should engage all public servants in lean thinking and practice to tap their creativity and wisdom in order to continuously improve services. Lean management makes work processes better so government becomes more effective and efficient.
Applying lean to government is a movement in its early stages. (Government is slow at just about everything, isn’t it, except maybe tax collection?), but recent initiatives are encouraging.
Washington State government just presented at our annual Lean Transformation Summit on how it will track the impact of using lean principles to create a work culture that encourages respect, creativity, and problem solving to identify and eliminate waste.
Melbourne Australia has been using lean principles for several years to cut waiting time for sports permits, save time and money on fixing parking meters, and free up an extra 50 minutes daily for nurses in the city’s maternal child health services to spend with customers.
And just recently, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan asked a crowd of 800 business leaders to teach lean principles to city employees so they could improve core processes like response times to police calls or water main breaks.
I don’t know if that crowd contained any Japanese culture consultants. But it is time for lean practitioners (consultants and otherwise) to aim their expertise and passion at making things better in the public sector… in Saskatchewan, Detroit, and my local city hall.