In the Trenches: Transforming State Government Through Lean

Harrisburg University

Public perception of state government is not always flattering. Criticisms include slow processes, outdated tools and IT systems, uncaring employees, and questionable customer service. The truth is that we often expect incredibly dedicated employees to perform heroically within average or broken business processes. In fact, when an urgent need arises, these very employees often circumvent those broken processes out of necessity simply to meet a customer’s need.

In the past, the “solutions” to process problems included adding more employees, building a “magic” IT system, spending more money, or “allowing 4-6 weeks for delivery.” Increasing customer expectations driven largely by technological advances, growing numbers of retirement-eligible state employees, and persistent financial constraints have largely eliminated these “solution” options. The only remaining option is to work harder and faster…or is it?

In 2016, the Commonwealth embarked on a significant transformational effort to better serve its citizens – shifting its 70,000+ person organization from a conventionally-managed enterprise to a lean enterprise based on the decades old Toyota Production System (TPS). In the presentation, we will discuss how the Commonwealth is approaching this daunting task, including lessons learned from the first statewide agency to begin the journey to improve processes by eliminating waste.

Track 2: Agile Lean Transformations (I)