The past belief has been that Lean only works for manufacturers and large organizations. And this statement is not totally accurate. Lean, as we have proven, works just as well, or better, for smaller organizations/businesses and in local county Governments and agencies.
How can that be so?
Some of the ongoing misconception is ‘Lean is too complicated, plus too time consuming’, for smaller organizations and Government agencies. Additionally, owners and leaders of smaller businesses and agencies generally feel ‘we don’t have the money or staff to support that’. This thinking/impression needs to change.
In fact, Lean is a powerful methodology, and thinking, which results in rapid improvement in smaller organizations and government agencies. The value stream mapping process, when done properly, can be done rapidly and effectively uncovering the waste, or non-value, within the processes. It makes the waste obvious in the end-to-end process. It is additionally critical, and important, to implement this mapping in the information/communication flows. The hidden, or difficult to see waste, suddenly become obvious.
The exciting part about using Lean in smaller organizations is the improvements can happen after the Value Stream Mapping analysis quickly, and the results of the improvements are measurable immediately.
An ROI is established quickly because of the speed in which improvements are made. It results in a rapidly transformed operation, and culture, with all staff aligned with the vision of the organization. The organization is now able to do things faster, better, and less cost, meaning they can do more with what they have.
Some of the reasons why there is resistance to implementing Lean?
- Not aware of Lean and its’ capabilities – lack of understanding
- Change can be difficult and resisted
- Not sure where to start
- Leadership not able to ‘see’ the total potential of improvement
- Not sure how to adapt Lean techniques to virtual/information flows
- Comfortable with doing things the same as years past
- No time to improve – waiting for the perfect time to improve
- Rapid improvement in communications and material flow
- Rework reduction to the point of rapidly freeing up employee time
- Higher employee retention
- Easier to recruit talented employees
- Reduced process and people stress
- Cost savings
- Understanding in detail the end-to-end processes
- Rapid implementation of new policies, or procedures, that are very effective
- Immediate merging of multiple organizations or processes – entire organization working as a ‘team’
- Become more competitive and able to do more with their resources
- Free up space
- Increase pride, and satisfaction within their staff
- Increase competitiveness
Examples of Improvement metrics
- 40% + Increase in staff availability time
- Reduced rework and scrap
- In Government better outreach/service to the community
- % Increase in Quality higher than has ever been achieved before
- $ Cost savings without cutting services or staff
In summary – The Lean process can be successfully implemented in smaller organizations and County Governments. And the exciting part is, the transformation, and ROI, occurs rapidly.