Lean in Washington? It’s an idea whose time has come!
Before I start, I want to relay that this is a rough thought, a preliminary idea. I will more than likely revisit this subject after I receive some e-mails and opinions. So, I will strive to make this a quick blog, just enough to get your mind brewing a little.
I was in a conversation with my lean sensei about a week ago. We were talking about an extraordinary American, Benjamin Franklin. He was a polymath and one of the founding fathers of these United States, but he was also one of the founders of lean and never once traveled to Japan.
There is an interesting article online entitled “Lean Thinking from Benjamin Franklin”. It was written by Debra S. Levantrosser, the executive director of lean and business improvement at Johnson & Johnson. I highly suggest searching for this article and reading it. It is a very remarkable article.
She writes that Franklin encouraged innovation and experimentation. He practiced servant leadership and thorough communication. He constantly strived for perfection and supported small, incremental changes.
Franklin was truly a great American and set an example for us all. However, my article is not about Ben Franklin. I just used him to set the stage for this next comment: Where are the lean practitioners in Washington? Do they exist? If I had to guess, I would say that there are none.
The government today reminds me of the automobile manufacturers of the 1940s and 1950s - big and fat, and without a care in the world. They are spending money and wasting it right and left. Now, the same automobile manufacturers that claimed they didn’t need lean want to master it. You’d think that all of the Yale and Harvard minds in D.C. would learn from the automobile manufacturers, but it doesn’t seem that way.
First of all, the federal government has gotten way too big - so big that it’s frightening. It was never intended to be what it is today. In fact, I believe that Ben would be shocked at what it has become; and if he was alive today, he would work to stop it.
Undoubtedly, they have lost their way. They have deviated from the standard - The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They have expanded to overrun states’ rights and trampled on the responsibility of the process owners. They have micromanaged their way to failure and negatively impacted morale.
Let’s be honest. They have no idea what servant leadership is and struggle like a 5-year-old changing a radiator when it comes to honest, consistent communication. They do not understand that sometimes innovation means the simplest resolution. They definitely do not know who their customer is and never ask for our feedback (not to say that they would listen if we answered).
Who is determining the value of our current federal government and its programs? Who is conducting the analysis to determine the Senate’s effectiveness? Who is auditing them? Who is measuring them? Who is holding them accountable? I ask you who? Who? Who? It seems like no one.
So, we obviously cannot very well request that Deming run for president, so what can we do? Create the National LEAN party to hold a kaizen event in Washington? I think that’s a good idea. Who’s with me?
Think about this rough idea and please let me know what you think. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here on the Reliable Plant blog site. I look forward to your comments.
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