Monday, September 26, 2011

"Lean" Government? It's Do-Able

When you come right down to it, most of the "bureaucracy" problems are a result of kudzu-like growth in Gummint's agencies and departments; and most of the growth is a result of legislative or regulatory 'mission creep'--often in haphazard and conflicting ways (if not contradictory.)

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) thinks that "lean" can work--but that it will be a struggle.

Lean Six Sigma could help reduce the soaring national debt but faces some key challenges in government implementations, according to a new survey by ASQ, the leading global network of quality experts. The biggest obstacle, survey respondents said, is a U.S. federal government structure that can be a barrier to comprehensive evaluation and accountability.

What is this "lean"?

Lean emphasizes removing waste from organizations and processes while focusing on and delivering more value to customers. Six Sigma focuses on variation reduction in processes, products, and services.

"Lean" and "Six Sigma" are two different tools.  In implementation, "Lean" is akin to first aid; Six Sigma is more like surgery.  Lean begins with the "do-er"--the people on the ground--and asks 'what can be done better and how can management help you do it', while SixSig addresses higher-level Gordian knots.

It won't be easy.

...survey participants ranked other obstacles to implementing Lean Six Sigma in government agencies:

1. An environment faced with conflicting strategies, goals, and priorities.
2. Creating a sense of urgency to deploy a comprehensive improvement methodology across all government agencies.
3. The personnel management model currently used by many government agencies.
4. A lack of familiarity with Lean Six Sigma and how it can benefit the organization.
5. Ongoing political partisanship.

The principal obstacle is #1 above; often, Agency A's agenda and procedures are in conflict with Agency B's, and the entity which is subject to both of them is.......ahhhh........screwed.

However, it should be done.  There should be no disagreement over waste and inefficiency, period.

1 comment:

neomom said...

It is a mind-set thing.

We are expected to do more with the same or less budget year over year. We get good things for spending below budget. We are also measured on our level of customer service, so can't let that slide.

Gov't awards spending it all and more. They also don't have any sort of framework of "customer service". So if money is threatened to be cut, they scream that service will go down. It mostly worked until now, still does in some places.

Luckily there are still enough people like these folks at ASQ that know it can be done. Go get em' Captain Ahab!