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Lean management: in the public sector too?

Posted by Paul Neefjes on 18 August, 2016

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In recent years, many commercial organizations have undergone major improvements by working Lean. Lean working is a method in which all wastage in a process is eliminated in order to achieve maximum value. Removing wastage from the process lowers costs, which leads to improvement in corporate result.

Smart, lean management

Since its inception, this lean way of managing has not only become important for commercial organizations. Owing to budgetary pressure and an increasing demand for transparency by the public, the public sector is having to make even further cuts. So it’s high time to lower costs and improve quality. But how? By managing government leanly – among other things, by reorganizing processes and rearranging tasks. In this blog, we can’t discuss all the aspects that help municipalities to manage leanly, but the following three focus areas will certainly help.

Focus area 1: Eliminate duplicated work and over-processing

Because communication covers many layers in the public sector, there is always a risk that a lot more time is devoted to a service or project than is strictly necessary. On the other hand, Lean working means that all processes are optimally designed. This allows you to avoid people duplicating work and information can be shared more easily. Which prevents a lot of errors! The extra time resulting from eliminating over-processing can be used to create added value for the public. And that is essential at a time when the public is becoming increasingly more demanding.

Focus area 2: Ensure the right preconditions

Lean is not just a question of making processes transparent. You can’t escape the fact that the management system has to be changed so that

  • The right objectives are targeted,
  • There is less directive management
  • Employees assume responsibility for improving their own processes, leading to ownership.

The structure of the organization and the attitude and behavior of employees are key factors in the implementation process. Because a culture of continuous improvement is not present in all municipal organizations, employees must learn to be less focused on carrying out tasks correctly and feel freer to think in a process-oriented way.

Focus area 3: Improve the decision-making process

It’s not just communication but also the decision-making process that follows a much more tortuous route across far more layers in the public sector than in commercial organizations. And there are major gains realizable here. To start with, identify how the most important decision-making processes run. It will then quickly become clear where time can be saved. Do all of the minutes of every meeting really have to be printed out? And how can you avoid a lot of wasted time as colleagues wait on each other for documents to be approved? The many meetings can also be dealt with quicker if the processes are streamlined. When you add a good meeting tool to all these improvements, your decision-making will already look a lot leaner!

5 tips for lean meetings

Topic: Meeting techniques

iBabs is a leader in paperless meetings and enables you to reduce these piles of documents to the thickness of your tablet. Hundreds of organizations have been using this system for more than 15 years.

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