Monday, January 31, 2011

Can Walker "Lean" WI Government?

What George Lightbourn proposes (in essence) is "Lean Government."

....we can see the excesses that have been allowed to creep in. We see liberal pensions and other benefits. We see a government that abhors measurement and is thus unable to articulate if it is becoming more or less efficient. We see an industry that says it cannot do more without more money, that struggles with innovation. Walker must somehow imprint government with an entrepreneurial spirit that will define it for generations.

...what will the new government look like? It certainly will be smaller and, yes, its employees will have benefits more in line with the private sector. However, if Walker continues his journey its full distance, he will create a government that is responsive to what the citizens demand and flexible enough to adapt to ever-changing needs. It will persistently measure all of its activities and will focus on productivity and performance.

So, too, it will be a government in which employees are not simply operating under command and control but are allowed discretion to do their jobs and be held accountable for results. It will be a government marked by innovation and adaptability and attraction of top talent to its ranks.

The first thing to recall is that government is NOT industry. So there will always be some 'slop,' (there is some in "lean-ified" industry, too). One does not have "J-I-T" policing, nor prison space.

Lightbourn's most significant comment is that 'the Government abhors measurement.' It is axiomatic that in order to "lean" a process, one must measure the elements within that process, in time and/or cost, against the expected outcome. THEN one can adjust the process for efficiency, whether through mechanization, or automation, or simply by placing the elements of the process within the reach and control of the process-operator.

Yes, that means that Government employees will be more 'empowered.' That's also axiomatic in the Lean-management theory. It means that they will know more about the expected outcome and facilitate the outcome rather than institutionalizing the process.

Don't be surprised if that results in a lessening of supervisory positions. Don't be surprised if it results in some mistakes, either. Those are learning opportunities and can be fixed.

One likely good outcome: less lawyers.

Not trying is the cardinal sin.

HT: Sykes

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