Miami and Pennsylvania on Lean Approach

October 17, 2019 by Melissa Crowe

Miami and Pennsylvania on Lean Approach

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley/Flickr

If you work in government, you've probably heard these buzzwords: process improvement, performance management, and lean.

Lean is the crux to a performance management style that aims to improve processes by supporting continuous improvement and a long-term approach to work. The goal is that through incremental changes in processes, governments and departments can boost efficiency and quality.

Two government leaders know it best: Colby Clabaugh, Pennsylvania's Director of Performance Delivery for the Office of Performance Through Excellence, and Michael Sarasti, CIO and Director of Innovation for the City of Miami. Here, Clabaugh and Sarasti share how their governments take advantage of lean and performance management.

Lean Management is a Customer-Focused Mindset

Pennsylvania's Office of Performance Through Excellence was created after Governor Wolf's administration found $373 million of savings in fewer than three years by eliminating waste and streamlining processes.

Still, savings aren't at the heart of the office's work. Rather, says Clabaugh, the mandate is delivering better results and increased value to Pennsylvania residents.

"Lean is a mindset that puts customers at the center of everything we do," Clabaugh says. "It's a commitment to continuously improve by relentlessly focusing on eliminating waste by every person, on every level, at every process, every day."

One of the office's goals is to show colleagues that state government can be thought of a series of processes that create value — rather than a collection of organizational charts that lead to bureaucracy, says Clabaugh.

"We are trying to empower our employees and equip them with the tools they need to be daily problem solvers" he says. "We're working to use data to measure results, to learn, and to make smarter decisions."

Here, you can begin to see how lean and performance management dovetail.

For any performance goal — safer communities, for example — lean provides tools that accelerate progress by improving processes, says Clabaugh.

"Wherever you are collecting data to measure performance, there is a lean opportunity at that point in the system— whether it be in the routine activities you do, the widgets you produce, the customers you serve, or the results that you deliver," Clabaugh says.

Adopting Lean Empowers Staffers

The city of Miami launched its Miami Innovation Academy after Sarasti observed a mountain of ideas staffers shared for city-level innovation.

"I realized very quickly we were doomed if all innovation was happening in my offices," says Sarasti.

Miami Innovation Academy trains 20 city employees a month, in a 2-and-a-half-day session.

The academy's exercises give staffers fresh perspective into city processes, says Sarasti.

Along with learning skills and tapping into a culture of problem-solving and innovation, attendees also leave with renewed enthusiasm for their day-to-day work.

"It's been wildly successful in that employees come back feeling super engaged with the work they've been doing," says Sarasti.

Lean reminds employees that creative problem-solving is a key component of their work, says Sarasti. It also helps employees see the connection between day-to-day tasks and agency-level objectives.

"The work with data and the work with process mapping has really been instrumental in showing department employees how the work that they do contributes to a high-level agency goal," says Clabaugh.

Get Started with Lean Performance Management Tactics

Introducing staffers to lean tactics doesn't have to be a complex process.

  • Dive in: Start training sessions by showing off simple, intuitive lean techniques such as 5S, a workplace organization strategy.
  • Share several lean strategies: Teach many different tools. You never know which ones people will gravitate toward.
  • Borrow liberally: Take advantage of other organization's expertise. For example, the¬†Denver Peak Academy shares all their materials online.
  • Talk to customers: îStart a conversation with the people you interact with frequently about what would make their encounters with government better.

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