In today’s government environment, where the trend is to operate as lean and efficiently as possible, it’s important to evaluate potential sources of waste that can work against that direction.
Early in my career, I worked as a general manager for a NASA contractor in Washington, and I was well aware of the commonly held belief that the government was overly bureaucratic and slow to operate, whether that view was accurate or not.
Managers and individual contributors at government agencies can optimize the organization’s productivity and efficiency—and counteract that long-held misconception about government bureaucracy—by proactively looking for sources of waste and challenging their existence.
Applying LEAN production principles across government agencies
In the AMA course LEAN Process Improvement: Delivering More with Less, we identify seven types of waste that potentially may hinder an efficient and productive government environment.
Challenge yourself to identify at least one example of each type of waste at your agency. This waste may be related to something a vendor provides to the agency or to a product or service your organization delivers to its “customers,” or constituents. The seven types of waste are:
Excessive transportation: Having excessive physical movement of a product that adds cost, but not value, to the customer
Improperly managed inventory: Deploying excess materials or too many resources
Unnecessary motion: Having excessive movement or unnecessary employee actions as they complete an individual task
Pointless waiting: Spending idle time waiting for another process to finish before beginning the next step in the work process
Overproducing: Producing more than the customer wants or is willing to pay for
Overprocessing: Having steps that do not add value from the customer’s point of view
Product defects: Making products or providing services that are unacceptable to the customer, are broken, or require rework to bring into conformity with other products
As always, check with your management or leadership to make sure that any efforts you make to reduce these wasters do not contradict agency policy, regulations, or go beyond the scope of your authority. Implementing LEAN production tactics is impactful in any organization, but it’s important to follow proper protocols in doing so.
If you are a leader or known influencer in your agency, continue to look for these wasters. Also, encourage staff to generate ideas to reduce or eliminate waste as part of your overall strategy for training government employees and colleagues.
Increase efficiency and productivity in your agency—and increase employees’ skill level—with AMA’s tailored training solutions.