Lean manufacturing methods are being applied to areas completely unrelated to manufacturing itself… health care, education, office and administration, and even government. In fact, even though many politicians enjoy thrashing supposed corruption and influence by corporations, the waste of taxpayers’ dollars by government and politicians is a far greater travesty. Lean can be particularly effective in such situations… if it is embraced. Leave it to our friends across the pond to do it.
Lean processes can do for public services what lean manufacturing has achieved for the private sector, a group of senior public policy academics and practitioners claimed today. The same techniques that revolutionised automotive production in the 1980s could be used to aid public service reform.
Where is it having the most impact?
Setting out evidence that lean thinking can address some of the inefficiencies found around public sector processes and practices, Zoe Radnor of Warwick Business School and Ruth Boaden of Manchester Business School, argued that the health sector in particular was already benefiting from lean ideas. “There is little doubt of the applicability of Lean to the public sector. We are not suggesting it is a complete panacea, but in terms of organisational change, many of the processes and services in the public sector can gain greater efficiency by considering and implementing aspects of Lean,” the authors said.
Other areas where there have already been a few reported applications of lean processes include universities, local government, government agencies and the military.
The editors summed up:
“We hope that policy-makers and stakeholders will join us in debating the potential of lean thinking as a tool of public service reform.
Several local and state agencies are already diving into lean. The military has several significant programs. Hopefully some day it will see large-scale deployment across the public sector.