Getting Started with Lean Implementation – Lessons from the State of Washington

Getting Started with Lean Implementation – Lessons from the State of Washington

Lean in manufacturing industries is quite well-known. However, the same principles are being applied in other areas as well – such as healthcare, financial services and even government agencies.  Though at a very nascent stage, significant developments are being made in this direction.

I was studying The Lean Transformation Report, 2012 and Beyond published by The Governor’s Office of Accountability & Performance, Washington State and I found quite interesting efforts made in the area of training, for the purpose of Lean implementation.

A three step process to lean implementation was adopted, which started with Learning, Implementing and followed by Supporting for sustenance of the program.

Here are some of the LEARN and SUPPORT efforts, made by the Government, to educate and bring awareness among the employees about the importance of Lean and guidance for its implementation.

Setting up the online infrastructure – Learning Management System

  • A dedicated portal Lean SharePoint was set up, to share information and activities across different state agencies. Different state agencies were working on independent projects implementing Lean and the portal is useful in exchanging and sharing experiences and learning from one another.

Populating the LMS with eLearning modules and resources

  • Online training modules for practitioners were uploaded on to the LMS. It was also used to announce new learning opportunities, calendar of key meetings and Lean projects being undertaken.
  • Several live and on-demand training sessions arebeing conducted for Lessons in Leadership, Training and Coaching.
  • Website and Intranet has additional resources, essential for learning about Lean – tools, media stories, case studies, articles, publications and books.

Social Learning Platform

  • A ‘community of practice‘ for Lean practitioners has been set up, which is an informal meeting ground for all key employees of the state, who are involved in implementing Lean in their respective agencies. The objective of the community is to generate ideas and solutions for effective Lean implementation. In its recommendations, the report recommended expansion of the community statewide, with web access and forming different levels of practitioners, such as beginners and advanced.

What I was impressed with was the Integrated use of Blended Learning programs, Learning Management System and Website, for the purpose of training and bringing about awareness about the initiative. A truly enterprise-wide Lean implementation effort is being made with a vision that by 2020, all Washington state government employees and leaders effectively use Lean principles and techniques.

The methods adopted for a sustainable lean implementation programs and the training efforts being made, could be easily replicated in any large multi-national organization. What are your thoughts?

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