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Lean in Government


Lean is a system of thinking designed to relentlessly pursue process improvements and reduce waste. Lean is the primary tool DHS and OHA are using to "do the right work, the right way." The goal is to maximize the value of the existing workforce, reduce costs and boost efficiency through process improvements.


Lean helps organizations deliver services that create value for clients with minimum waste and maximum quality. Lean has helped many private sector businesses become models of efficiency. Toyota was one of the first businesses to use Lean principles throughout its organization. Lean creates a sustainable structure and process for change and continuous improvement. It is customer-focused and employee-driven.


DHS and OHA Lean Leaders take Lean principles to the front lines of the Transformation Initiative. Lean Leaders are employees who have volunteered to be involved in the Transformation Initiative. They are supported in their work by the Transformation Office which provides ongoing training and expertise in Lean.


Lean Leaders are critical to the success of the Transformation Initiative. Using proven Lean techniques and working with each transformation team, Lean Leaders plan and facilitate individual process improvement efforts, helping staff, partners and providers apply their knowledge and expertise to design ideal processes that are free of waste and deliver high value to customers and clients.


Lean Leaders use Lean tools such as rapid process improvement (RPI) events and 5S workplace organization strategies as well as the Lean Daily Management System® (LDMS®). An RPI event typically lasts three days and involves the people who do the work — managers and employees from all organizational levels — in figuring out how to improve quality and customer service, eliminating redundant steps and handoffs, decreasing wait times and errors, and boosting morale.


LDMS gives each work group a common system for communication, taking action and evaluating results. Once in place and integrated, LDMS is the core means of ongoing support for the transformation implementation, and provides a mechanism for expanding the results of implementation. LDMS has five key elements including a "daily huddle;" a daily communication meeting for a work group that is no more than 10 minutes in length and serves as a forum for discussing important issues and progress. It also includes a Primary Visual Display board where a work group's performance measures are posted and constantly updated to gauge progress, and the Kaizen Action Sheet System used to capture improvement suggestions within a work group.


Every day more employees are learning about Lean and using Lean strategies to work more effectively as individuals and as members of a team.