The Department of Enterprise Services is one the newest agencies in Washington state government. Established October 1, 2011, by consolidating all or part of five existing agencies, the department provides a variety of support services to state government and Washington residents and is charged with creating greater overall operating efficiencies. To meet this charge, the agency made a long-term commitment to adopting Lean management practices and developing a Lean culture of continuous improvement. The Enterprise Services approach to Lean is characterized by the following elements:
Senior leaders unanimously embrace the vision for Lean at Enterprise Services and they included continuous improvement goals in the agency’s mission, vision and values.
Leading by example, senior leaders collectively study Lean thinking, tools, and techniques; actively sponsor projects and support the adoption of Lean practices by managers and in workgroups.
Capacity and Support
More than 900 agency staff (89 percent) received Lean overview training soon after the agency opened its doors. To further advance the type of action and results that Lean inspires, in February 2012, the agency established the Process Improvement (PI) Program, a dedicated unit to build the capacity and culture for continuous improvement. This team provides internal consulting, facilitation and training.
The PI Program is also developing staff who are identified by divisions as part-time practitioners. These practitioners will provide further capacity to support Lean projects and daily practice adoption throughout the agency.
Lean Thinking and Habits
While events and tools are an important part of a Lean organization, Enterprise Services recognizes that bringing sustainable change to the culture means adopting new Lean ways of thinking about work, customer needs and management. It is necessary to learn new habits and skills that emphasize empowering employees as problem solvers, coaching employees in the use of the scientific method, and adopting visual management techniques. Enterprise Services is currently in the process of training managers and teams in Lean thinking and habits. The long term goal is a mature Lean culture that continually produces improvements and greater efficiencies in state government.
Projects and Practices
The Lean journey at Enterprise Services often starts with an improvement project as the entrance point for a team. As they move to implementation, daily Lean practices are introduced. Teams are learning to use employee idea boards, visual controls, standing huddles and managing with data. Teams and managers are coached to adopt new habits and to become scientific problem solvers who continuously improve their processes to meet customer requirements.
Lean efforts should ultimately result in two outcomes: actual improvements and culture change.
Metrics are identified for every project or improvement initiative. Enterprise Services tracks savings in resources, improvements in quality, speed and customer satisfaction, and improvements in safety. Enterprise Services is also currently developing a Lean organization maturity model to assess culture change. An improvement dashboard will track these critical outcomes.
For more information on Lean continuous improvement activities and culture change at Enterprise Services, contact Process Improvement Program Manager Renee Smith Nyberg at (360) 407-9452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.