What is Lean?

Everyone enjoys working with a well run company, whether it is Southwest Airlines or Harley Davidson. People enjoy efficient, effective organizations. The question is, why can’t government operate under the same business principles that the private sector does?

Lean America is all about helping government organizations throughout America learn and implement lean thinking; by empowering their workers to continuously improve, eliminate waste, and to add value for all Americans. The enemy is waste! It exists in all of our lives, everyday, in everything we do.  To get a humorous, yet revealing look at how waste surrounds us, watch this 2-minute Lean Burrito video:

Paper carton: .04
2 Salsa containers lids: .10
Napkins: .01
Paper wrap: .01
Fork and knife: .06
Landfill cost .05
Cost to inventory extra product. .04
Total each burrito: .31
30 burritos a day: 9.30
30 burritos a day x 7 days a week x 52 weeks a year =
$3.385 per store

Or .31 a day times 10 million burrito a day in the U.S. alone =3.1 million dollars a day just in wasteful burritos instead of lean burritos.

The skeptics say it is impossible to get the government to be efficient and effective. However, thousands of public organizations all over the United States have adopted lean thinking. Listen to my interviews on my radio show with these visionaries and innovators in public organizations such as Sheriff John Rutherford of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department and County Executive Chris Collins of Erie County, New York. These lean thinkers refused to accept the status quo and have achieved spectacular results. John cut over $30 million from his budget without costing a single job. And he did it in a union shop with 1,700 Type-A sheriff deputies. Chris Collins cut costs, increased the quality of service and again did it in a union environment. In healthcare, visionaries like Dr. John Toussaint of Thedacare cut costs by 30-40%. Listen to my interview with Dr. Toussaint to be inspired by what can happen with the lean model in healthcare. Dr. John Toussaint was also interviewed on FOX News and you can read a transcript of that interview. Children’s Hospital also adopted the lean model and the results are irrefutable. The New York Times did a story and you can read about it here.

Lean America helps other public organizations learn the secret to unlocking the creative genius of their employees and improving the way governments operate.

The Constitution, inscribed on four pages of parchment, is the ultimate example of a lean government that empowers people. Our founding documents freed the citizens of this great country from the tyranny of a king and unleashed the genius and innovation of the American people. The rest is history!

How Is Lean Done?

Lean is best implemented as a snowball rather than a cannon ball. Snowballs start small and continually build; cannon balls are a one time shot and are NOT sustainable in the long run.

In order to implement lean, you must build a culture of continuous improvement. In my company, FastCap, we have been able to build a strong culture of lean thinkers by implementing a daily morning meeting. To learn more watch this quick 5-minute video. Lean America’s model is to place a lean teacher in every government organization. That teacher will work with a group of 10-30 people in a single department for 30 consecutive days. The lean teacher will conduct meetings that will last between 15-30 minutes every morning with the entire department.

During the meeting, team members will be taught what waste looks like, how to eliminate it, and what continuous improvement looks like. To learn more about continuous improvement, watch this quick 5-minute video on the FastCap morning improvement walk. The key is to teach team members to improve and eliminate waste in small increments each and everyday. Each team member will be asked to find waste and to implement solutions for them. The goal is to turn every team member into a world class problem solver who seeks and destroys waste everyday. We have videos that you can watch on what a single improvement looks like before and after.

The morning meeting will be a time to share and discuss problems, solutions, and to celebrate previous improvements. During the 30 day period, each team member will take turns leading the meeting. The goal is to create leaders by teaching and enforcing leadership qualities throughout the department.

At the end of the 30 days, the department will be on its own to continue the process in the absence of the lean teacher. Then:

  • the lean teacher will attend one meeting a week for the next 30 days,
  • one meeting a month for the entire first year.
  • after one year, the original team will send its own lean teachers to other departments and the snowball is rolling; creating world class lean thinkers and problem solvers.