Let’s talk about why Lean is necessary, and more specifically, why state employees should be excited about what’s in store as we deploy the Arizona Management System that’s based on Lean principles.
If you’re not already familiar with it, Lean is a proven set of principles and methods that result in continuous improvement of work processes. Lean is not an acronym or a separate initiative. Rather, it is integral to how we complete our mission today. It is a way to focus what we already do on what matters most. We do this by eliminating distractions and other wasteful activities that don’t further the agency mission. Waste frustrates everyone - customers, taxpayers and most certainly the employees who have to use the broken systems to get stuff done. Eliminating waste and streamlining systems enables us to do the things that we already do better, faster and more cost effectively.
As government employees, we can see why continuous improvement is needed in our operations. As employees doing the work, the central issue is capacity. With so many priorities competing for our limited time and resources, we absolutely need better processes for getting the work done. It can’t be about making people work longer and harder – that simply leads to burnout and bad behavior. Eventually overworked employees will quit and the vital mission of our agencies is left undone. Because the mission of Arizona government is vital, Arizona taxpayers – our investors – expect us to do our job and fulfill our vital mission. We have to find ways to increase capacity and improve our work flow, and for this we need a culture of continuous improvement throughout our ranks. Lean management helps to get us where we want to be.
Now, you may be wondering how Arizona’s Lean transformation is going to affect your job. Well, it should make your job more satisfying and create a better work environment so you can be more productive. Respect for people is a guiding Lean principle, and one way to show respect is by involving the staff who actually do the work and engage them in making their processes better.
In Lean organizations, employees typically enjoy greater creativity and influence in solving the problems that frustrate them and inhibit their performance. As you learn about Lean and begin applying it in your day-to-day work, you will see how your jobs become easier and how freed time can be put creatively to more productive use.
Lean also recognizes that, by and large, employees are not the problem. It’s moldy thinking, using broken systems and doing things the same old way that slow us down and make work life a chore.
With a good attitude and a focus on doing your vital mission work better, you will thrive in your agency’s Lean culture. Indeed, you may learn new skills and be offered new opportunities to support your agency’s mission in ever-more important ways.
And isn’t that why we chose a career in public service? To make a real difference in the lives of the millions of citizens who call Arizona their home.