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  • Ventura County’s Lean Journey with Paul Stamper

    In this podcast, Paul Stamper shares how lean has helped Ventura County improve its processes and how continuous improvement can bring positive change to government and service environments in general.

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  • Systems thinking for civil servants

    The UK Government Office for Science, in collaboration with the Policy Profession, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Systems Thinking Interest Group has produced a suite of documents to promote and embed systems thinking across the Civil Service.

    The guidance is intended for civil servants working all over government, regardless of grade, department, background or profession.

    The documents include:

    • an introduction to systems thinking, a short summary of what systems thinking is, when it is useful and why it can be beneficial to your work
    • the systems thinking journey, which expands on the content within the introduction to systems thinking and maps 5 systems thinking principles to different stages of the policy design process
    • the systems thinking toolkit, which contains step-by-step instructions on how to use 11 systems thinking tools
    • the systems thinking case study bank, which contains a collection of 14 personal testimonials from civil servants on their experiences of using systems thinking in their work

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  • Is Lean/TPS Possible in the Public Service?

    As a general rule, government departments most similar to private sector operations had the greatest success – (e.g. a city’s motor equipment division which maintained & repaired its cars & trucks).

    But the literature suggests that even those areas were unable to sustain continuous improvement, which as we know, entails building a supporting management system.

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  • Lean the Virus - Applying Lean principles to the COVID-19 response

    "This paper describes how lean concepts and techniques can be applied to the pandemic response. It explains how the principles of quality, efficiency, and standard work apply to elements of the response including regulation, supply chain management and data collection. The paper urgesthe integration of lean principles and techniques into public management systemsduring this public health crisisand going forward."

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  • Lean and Strategy in the U.S. Air Force with Reza Zeinalpour

    In this Gemba Academy podcast Reza Zeinalpour and the host talk about applying continuous improvement in the U.S. Air Force, including how they integrate performance metrics, innovation, and virtual reality. 

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  • U.S. Navy swapping $38,000 periscope joysticks for $30 Xbox controllers on high-tech submarines

    “The Navy got together and they asked a bunch of J.O.s and junior guys, ‘What can we do to make your life better?'” said Lt. j.g. Kyle Leonard, the USS John Warner’s assistant weapons officer. “And one of the things that came out is the controls for the scope. It’s kind of clunky in your hand; it’s real heavy.”

    ...The Xbox controller typically costs less than $30. The Pilot’s report said the photonic mast handgrip and imaging control panel cost about $38,000.

    The effort to put familiar technology in the hands of sailors won’t stop with the controllers, as touch screens like those on iPads and other devices will soon be incorporated into tasks.

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  • Using Kaizen to eliminate the large CSI evidence backlog in Ohio

     There are large backlogs in processing rape kits at police departments around the country.  In many states the problem is so long term and so visible and politically damaging that legistlatures have tried to address the huge backlogs.  The success has been fairly limited.  In Ohio they commited resources to addressing the problem and using kaizen principles to improve their internal processes and get real results.  We need more states to follow Ohio's lead.

    In 2011, the Ohio Attorney General’s office pushed the state to address its backlog. In response, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation held a week-long hack-a-thon where they revamped each step in the rape kit testing process using Kaizen, a Japanese productivity philosophy, said Kristen Slaper, a DNA laboratory supervisor.

    “It used to be that it could take a scientist an entire day to work a rape kit,” Slaper said. “Now it can take an hour or two for them to open it, do minimal screening, take their notes and cut the samples into tubes.”

    The lab runs like an assembly line with tasks divided among scientists. Ohio trains newly hired forensic scientists in small tasks, like cutting swabs, and gets them on the job within a month, Slaper said.

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  • Phoenix — A Challenge to the Public Sector

    I intend to provide a concrete way forward to our elected and appointed federal government officials to replace the Phoenix pay system. It frustrates me to no end that in 2018 we have to pay for failed IT systems that use approaches firmly rooted in the 1960s, when I and many other software people know that we could ship most if not all of the system, with substantially better quality, at a cost that’s at least one if not two orders of magnitude lower.


    My proposal is to start with a small, handpicked team of perhaps a dozen people from a number of disciplines and grow only when there’s enough pain to warrant growth. Let that team work outside the normal government bureaucracy, with the backing of the highest levels of elected officials and members of the federal public service. Stay out of that team’s way and let them deliver a high quality system that is extremely well-tailored to the needs of the users and stakeholders, and does what it’s supposed to do… pay people in the public service.

    Related: Testing Smarter with Mike Bland - Better Management in Government

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  • Government service is to be judged on equity as well as on efficiency

    W. Edwards Deming, from page 198 of Out of the Crisis 

    Government service is to be judged on equity as well as on efficiency.

    Which he follows with a quotes from Oscar Ornati “We have forgotten that the function of government is more equity oriented than efficiency oriented.”

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  • How Learning Collaboratives Are Helping to End Homelessness

    Our team at Community Solutions is adapting IHI’s quality improvement methodology and Breakthrough Series Collaborative model to help communities end homelessness among veterans and chronically homeless people. To date, 10 of the 70 communities we’re coaching have ended homelessness for at least one of these populations, and another 22 communities are reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness month-over-month. These communities are applying systems thinking, real-time measurement, and quality improvement methods to methodically drive down homelessness over time.

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  • Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference Presentations Available Online

    The 2017 Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference is taking place now.  Follow the link to view past presentations on YouTube and download slides and session materials (2012 through 2016 and I would imagine 2017 will be added soon).

    Webcasts include

    • Continuous Improvement and Personal Kanban by Jim Benson (Modus Cooperandi)
    • We're not robots - reorganize for speed! by John Dickson (Spokane County)
    • Embracing employee ideas by Alex Ogunji (Los Angeles County) and Tracy O'Rourke (Integris)
    • Lean Transformation in Government by Jim Womack Lean Enterprise Institute
    • Developing Problem Solving Capability in Others through Coaching by Hollie Jensen (Results Washington, Office of the Governor)
    • Build Your Management System First, Then Optimize Lean: The Department of Retirement Systems Case Study by John Bernard and Marcie Frost (Department of Retirement Systems)


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  • How to Start a Lean Agile Transformation?

    In the 5th episode of Lean Agile Management Podcast, change management expert and a governmental Lean-Agile professional Mike Burrows answers questions about transforming teams, organizations, and governments into lean thinkers and agile practitioners.

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  • Lean Project Helps Colorado DOT Provide Disaster Response Following Historical Flood

    The team was able to identify needless handoffs delaying the review process of many permits. A common handoff occurred when a permit writer sent an application to the engineering staff to make the determination of whether that particular truck posed any threats to bridges along the proposed route. By trimming wasteful work and providing new training opportunities, the department reduced the total number of steps in the approval process from 17 to 12, with plans to reduce it even further in the future.

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  • Lean Blog Podcast with Harry Kenworthy, “Lean Government Now!”

    Mark Graban and Harry Kenworthy discuss Harry's new book.

    Harry said that Lean government is not only happening in the US, but in other countries as well. His consulting company has a very strong relationship with the United Kingdom, and also has links with Australia, and Canada.


    Practising lean is just living that [idea that] people are the most important resource, and the high-level respect for individuals and developing

    your people, I guess that’s how I would sum it up.

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  • Violence Reduction on Adult Inpatient Units using a Quality Improvement Approach

    Tower Hamlets Adult Mental Health inpatient wards reduced violence by over 40% and by 60% on the acute admissions wards, using a Quality Improvement approach. 

    The change ideas that have helped in general adult settings work on 2 main drivers:

    1. Increasing teams ability to identify and predict risks of violence and to take action proactively as a team. Two change ideas work on this; Safety Huddles and the Broset Violence Checklist

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