ALL ABOUT LEAN & KAIZEN
Ohio's state agencies are dramatically improving their core businesses processes -- reducing process times, decreasing costs, and increasing customer satisfaction. They're doing so by using the principles, tools and strategies of Lean, Kaizen, and Six Sigma. These are the same best practices used by top private-sector organizations across Ohio and throughout the world.
Adding up the results
WORKING THE NUMBERS
Numbers and metrics play a key role in LeanOhio improvement efforts. During improvement projects, team members use data to analyze workflows and evaluate the impact of their action plans.
In the first few months of 2011, improvement teams have streamlined core processes in a major way, reducing the start-to-finish process time by anywhere from 67% to 93%. Money is being saved too -- up to $4 million over five years for one project alone. And the improvements are adding up to better service for customers -- like the law-enforcement agencies that are getting faster evidence reports from the state's crime labs.
Sharpening our focus
Lean is a methodology that steers improvement efforts to where they'll have the biggest impact. LeanOhio is not
about making small changes on a random basis in the hope of making customers happier. It's about helping agencies clarify their critical priorities and then strengthening their core work processes so that external and internal customers see significant improvement.
Putting Kaizen to work
One of the most powerful Lean tools used to date is Kaizen. The term is Japanese, meaning to break apart or change (kai) for the better (zen). In a Kaizen event, team members spend five intensive days first analyzing a key process -- then developing major improvements to eliminate inefficiencies, increase quality, and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.
Getting all the players involved
A Kaizen event brings together not only the people who do the work of the process, but also some of their representative customers and stakeholders along with objective outsiders who have no knowledge of the process. This builds important perspectives and fresh ideas into every event.
Ensuring immediate action
"I was skeptical in the beginning. But by the second day, I was starting to realize, we’re getting it done! It’s amazing. We did it in four days."
DNA Forensic Scientist
Read about BCI's Kaizen
Also with Kaizen, implementation of many improvements begins as soon as the team completes its week of work. There is nothing theoretical or hypothetical about Kaizen. It's all about real change. The efficiencies and savings begin to accrue right away.
Engaging the workforce
One of the great outcomes of these major improvement efforts is that they energize the workforce. Ask anyone who has served on a team during a five-day Kaizen event, or someone who has been involved in a 5S session to reorganize a workspace, and you'll hear the a common message: It's a lot of work, but it's great to team up with colleagues and co-create a new and better way of going about our work.
Putting the rest of Lean to work
Kaizen events are just one aspect of Lean. Much more is under way in state government, including value-stream analysis (a best-practice approach to find a full range of improvement opportunities), process mapping (included in every Kaizen event, it's also used as a stand-alone to help work areas understand their process and find quick-hit improvements), and 5S (a proven method for increasing productivity by better organizing the physical work space).