Lean Government

Mention the word ‘government’ pretty much anywhere in the world and you’ll be met by angry comments citing inefficiency, bureaucratic red tape and frustration. Arguably, no sector could benefit more from the application of lean management. Lean is all about simplifying and rationalizing, a need that will become more and more stringent for government organizations worldwide as their budgets are squeezed.

Experiments in the application of lean government in the public sector go back a few years, with a difficulty commonly raised being “seeing the work”. An early, notable and very successful example of lean government is City of Melbourne, where lean brought a common language that managed to link the work of 30+ government agencies. Other examples are Ministries in the UK, municipalities in the Netherlands, the Dubai Police and cities in the USA. In Grand Rapids, the Fire Department started a lean journey some 10 years ago, which ended up spreading to every other area of city government. There is even a state-wide lean transformation taking place at Washington State.

Lean government organizations provide higher quality, faster and more transparent service to citizens. Since lean thinking can be successfully applied to any human endeavor, lean government ideas can improve any type of public sector work, whether legislative, executive or judicial (see the work done in the HM Courts and Tribunal Service in the United Kingdom).

lean management Grand Rapids Fire Department

The Fire Department transforming itself and its city

INTERVIEW – Is “lean fire-fighting” an oxymoron? It isn’t if you are the Grand Rapids Fire Department, which has not only turned itself around but is also leading a city-wide lean transformation.
LGN SIT partnership lean capabilities

An alliance to bring lean capabilities to Singapore

FEATURE – Last year, the Lean Global Network entered a partnership with the Singapore Institute of Technology to bring lean capabilities to local SMEs. Along the way, we discovered an alternative approach to academic teaching.
Lean cities interview

Can lean thinking transform our cities?

SEEN FROM OTHERS – Another interview in our series on how lean is perceived from the outside. This month we talk to an urban strategist to see if and how lean can contribute to transforming our cities.
Julie McGrory profile

The serial improver: changing government with lean thinking

PROFILE – Lean leaders are often tempted to jump in and fix the problems they see. Julie McGrory is successfully transforming the culture of a large and traditional government organization by learning to take a step back and letting people take the lead.
national audit office lean government

UK government needs a holistic approach to lean management

RESEARCH – A recent report by the National Audit Office looks at what works and what doesn’t when lean management is applied in UK government organizations.
lean startup pezziardi interview

Using lean startup ideas to redesign service to citizens

INTERVIEW – When we think of innovation we rarely think of government, and yet the public sector is in desperate need to modernize and improve. Pierre Pezziardi is on a mission to bring innovation to the French government.
barcelona governance lean management

Is Barcelona’s government run with lean thinking?

OPINION – When thinking about Barcelona, most of us think of Gaudí’s architecture, tapas and beach weather, but the Catalonian capital might also be a worthy example of lean principles applied to city management.
hoshin ministry netherlands

Two years of hoshin at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure

ARTICLE – The theory of hoshin kanri is clear, but how can you adapt it to a government organization structured in departments where making A3s is not a daily practice? A Dutch ministry shares its experience.
hmcts lean government england

Lean government: how UK courts and tribunals are changing

CASE STUDY - HM Courts & Tribunals Service has been using lean ways of working for over six years, learning many lessons along the way and achieving some fantastic wins.
amersfoort lean government

Lean government: a Dutch city adopts lean thinking

INTERVIEW - The historical city of Amersfoort in the Netherlands has introduced lean thinking and practice in local government to provide better and faster services to its citizens.
lean transformation saskatchewan

Implementing lean management principles across government

CASE STUDY – The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is running a bold experiment: applying lean management across all government. The driving force? A “compelling vision.”
medicina legal lean approach

Lean principles in a forensic medicine institute

ARTICLE – The Institut de Medicina Legal de Catalunya has learned that employee engagement and lean thinking can shake up even the stiffest of the public sector's working environments.
lean management UK government

Auditing UK government’s adoption of lean thinking

ARTICLE - Britain’s National Audit Office looks at how well taxpayer money is spent, gaining invaluable insight into the use of lean management in central government.
lean city melbourne

Melbourne – pushing the boundaries of lean government

CASE STUDY - How does lean contribute to making Melbourne one of the world’s most liveable cities year after year? Denise Bennett explains the approach followed.

Washington State: using lean management in government

INTERVIEW - Thanks to strong leadership support and an effective system to partner with private sector firms, Washington State is proving how successful lean production principles can be in a government setting.
solihull lean transformation

How an English council transformed itself with lean thinking

CASE STUDY - In November last year, a town in the West Midlands made the headlines after a survey named it the best place to live in the United Kingdom. Lean may not be directly responsible for the achievement, but there is little doubt it gave its contribution.