I recently came across a news article on how Fort Dodge, Iowa, population 27,000, has decided to dive into lean government. There were a lot of good points in the article, reinforcing that this particular town government is a bit more enlightened than most… including our own federal government.
Management techniques introduced by Toyota may soon be used in a bid
to improve the efficiency of Fort Dodge government services. Toyota
called it lean manufacturing, but the city version is known as lean
government. It's a long-term system of change that seeks to squeeze out
any inefficiencies in a given task.
Fierke said hiring a firm is necessary because no one on the city staff
has the training to conduct a thorough lean government review.
Lutz said laying off employees is not the ultimate goal of lean
government. Fierke noted that the city is launching the process at a
time when 42 employees will become eligible for retirement in the next
Sounds great, eh? Recognizing a problem, knowing that lean can help, and also knowing that lean is not about laying off people. That's some pretty amazing leadership for a town like Fort Dodge.
But then you start reading the comments to the article, and it hits you why lean isn't more prevalent, why it is met with so much resistance. And we can learn from that.
Wouldn't need to hire any one if some one in the city goverment had an ounce of COMMON SENSE.
How often have we heard that? Yes, lean truly is a lot of common sense. But it is often very hard to see common sense when you're ingrained in the status quo.
Can someone explain this to me? The city is struggling financially, and
now they want to pay someone to show them how to slim down the city
payroll. I thought we hired a city manager and created all these other
positions to handle this stuff. I have an idea why don’t we eliminate
all the overpaid positions at city hall that promised to bring in more
businesses and have not delivered.
Once again. Yes we pay managers to "handle this stuff"… in government and in business. But we also pay managers to know when to recognize that there's a better way, and then determine how to obtain the knowledge to implement that better way.
Answer me this Do you think spending $140,000 minimum to help us do what we should be doing ourselves already is a wise idea?
Can they do it themselves without obtaining the knowledge? If it is done right, the ROI will be incredible… far greater than $140,000.
Toyota has a terrible reputation for workers relations.
Huh? That's basic misinformation. But once again, a false opinion held by some people that needs to be dealt with.
Wasn't that what the city manager was hired to do? Of course Fierke
wants them retained. Less work for him to do. Can't remember the last
time someone was hired to do part of my job. Must be nice to work for
Consultants make it easier for managers? Not if consultants do their job. Then the manager has the even more difficult task of implementing.
So there you have it. A great program by an enlightened town government, dealing with the same misgivings of their constituencies as business has with theirs… except that business is not a democracy. But for a lean program to be successful, those issues and opinions need to be dealt with.