A hat tip to our friend Jon Miller at Gemba Panta Rei, who pointed us to a few articles on how Wisconsin is pushing lean… both lean government and support for lean business.
Mary Burke, the Secretary of the Commerce Department, is the champion behind much of the effort. Although she has a Harvard MBA, she does have real manufacturing experience from working for Trek Bicycle since 1986. Trek was co-founded by her father, Richard Burke, and her last job there was as director of forecasting and strategic planning. That’s where she learned about the power of lean.
Starting back at Trek in the mid- to late ’90s, Burke, who’s the daughter of Trek’s founder and sister of the current president, said she watched as lean tactics helped improve the bicycle manufacturer’s efficiency, lead time and product quality.
And that experience convinced her that lean is the way to go for all of Wisconsin’s manufacturers.
Burke said she’d like to see more companies in the state put the philosophy to use. Her vision, she said, "would be that every manufacturer in every part of the state is lean. My guess is that probably only 25 percent of manufacturers out there are using and have really implemented lean in Wisconsin," Burke said. "We have a lot of small manufacturers and really it’s just as important in small manufacturers as it can be in a large one."
She’s putting the state’s money to work to help out.
And she’s putting the state’s money where her mouth is by nearly doubling the amount of funding for lean training and consulting through the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Her budget proposal would raise the funding from $850,000 to $1.5 million per year.
She’s also driving lean in her own government operations.
She practices what she preaches, using lean concepts in her department. "We have implemented it at the Department of Commerce and now have 10 trained facilitators in-house who have taken this on in addition to their regular job duties," she said. Burke has led her department into doing 25 lean events as an example of lean in government. Fewer state workers are doing more work, she said.
Mary Burke is in a unique position to leverage lean in her own government offices while providing funds to help drive it in industry. Perhaps her success will prompt other states to take notice.