Lean Culture at DES

Continual improvement is not just everyone's job, it's the the world in which we work

Lean is embedded at every level within Enterprise Services. It is impossible to walk through a DES location and not see evidence of the problem solving, visual management, and daily lean practices embraced by the workforce. This allows us to make our everyday work more efficient and apply the same way of thinking to larger issues.

Establishing, enhancing, and evolving

Teaching people Lean principles and guiding organizations through problem solving is just one part of the many steps one can take in a Lean journey. At the Dept. of Enterprise Services as well as other agencies with whom we partner, we are actively growing and reinforcing a Lean Culture of continual improvement. This emphasizes a workforce which promotes central concepts such as:

  • Applying the improvement and problem-solving process using Lean techniques every day.
  • Every employee solves problems. Every leader coaches.
  • Engagement at all levels of the workforce for demonstrating and supporting Lean thinking.
  • Daily Huddles in 110 workgroups, which use their strategy maps and measures to make data-driven business decisions.
  • Visual management of tasks, project progression, ideas and, most importantly, results!

If Lean is part of everyday business, then improving on larger problems or tackling broader issues becomes easier and imbedded in the natural course of work.

Going big

Problem solving is encouraged in everything from the simplest elements of a workflow to the largest processes that have room for improvement. With everyone promoting a Lean mindset, fixing things doesn't seem insurmountable.

By emphasizing the value of tools such as 9-step problem solving and engendering enthusiasm for analyzing the root cause of what is causing the gap between your current process and your ideal, our teams proudly display the results that have come from assessing their situation and finding the fixes that bring positive results. The agency is equally proud to promote and celebrate the times we found areas for improvement and made it happen.

Foundational clarity

The agency's strategic planning embraces Lean thinking with:

  • Strategy mapping using a grassroots model of starting at the program level, moving up to the agency level and engaging with the workforce along the way.
  • Development of strategy maps in all 62 programs.
  • Quarterly sharing of program/division-specific metrics and performance conversations with agency-wide participation.
  • Emphasis on openness, integrity, collaboration, respect, and innovation.

Lean leadership skills are being developed. Leaders are learning how they can coach an environment focused on continual improvement and how they can foster a Lean organization.

Tools for success

By leveraging the experience and approach of Lean Transformation Services, DES's core group of Lean practitioners and consultants, the agency provides several approaches to cement a Lean atmosphere.

  • Employee training to build employees problem-solving skills and develop their mindset to continually improve their work every day.
  • Leadership training to guide leaders to embrace a personal Lean journey and adopt a new leadership mindset and habits.
  • Facilitation training to impart the skills needed to guide improvement teams to results.
  • Lean tours designed to give an introduction, overview, and familiarity with the daily use of Lean practices.
  • Project facilitation and ongoing partnership wherein experienced consultants assess and address the best steps for your Lean journey.
  • Coordination and alignment with the Governor's Lean initiative and the Results Washington model for process improvement.

Your agency can do it too!

For a more comprehensive view of how we reinforce this way of working at Enterprise Services and the way we can help you accomplish the same, contact Lean Transformation Services​ at (360) 407-7925 or lean@des.wa.gov.

UPCOMING: Governor's Lean Transformation Conference

We are gearing up for the exciting chance to share our story, our tools, and connect with the state's Lean leaders at the upcoming Lean Transformation Conference conference October 20 and 21 at the Tacoma Convention Center. We'll be sharing information about our offered services and hosting breakout sessions that give DES programs a chance to tell of their success with Lean culture building, and an interactive opportunity to explore the best ways to assess a situation and solve problems within your own organization. Sign-up today.

For more information on Lean continuous improvement activities and culture change at Enterprise Services, contact Lean Transformation Services​ at (360) 407-7925 or lean@des.wa.gov.