LA Can Lower Costs, Improve Services with ‘Lean Six Sigma’ Program
- Diedra M. Greenaway
BUDGET ADVOCATES-Lean Six Sigma provides a means to improve the delivery of services using a disciplined, project-based approach. It brings numerous advantages if implemented properly. I have recommendations for the application of lean six sigma in Los Angeles City government and the departments within that target a wide range of public sector services, including those provided to citizens and those provided to internal customers.
The creation of an infrastructure that supports the Lean Six Sigma program requires that attention be given to four goals:
- Deploy a sound, consistent, and robust methodology.
- Build trust.
- Initiate long-term cultural change.
- Communicate the vision to all stakeholders.
There are unique characteristics of government processes and several stand out more than others within the LA City departments:
- Lack of cross-functional process flow (hindrance of department coordination).
- No explicit motivation for urgency (not being cognizant of task priority).
- Significant task variability (the need for control of workflow).
- Use of financial justification alone to decide on resource allocation to improvement projects.
The premise that Lean Six Sigma can form the basis of a systematic and disciplined process improvement program in city government has been supported. The goal of Lean Six Sigma is to improve service and ultimately lower the cost of its delivery. This goal can be accomplished through a combination of employee attrition, workforce reallocation, and contractor attrition, so that costs are minimized and additional services are provided to the public. To achieve these ends, Lead Six Sigma should be implemented in a carefully thought-out manner.
The use of Lean Six Sigma methodology (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) for each department will:
- Define the issues of each department.
- Measure the magnitude of the issues and prioritize them.
- Develop a hypothesis of why the issues exist.
- Mitigate the root cause of the issues by piloting process change and implement solutions.
- Control the improvement by ensuring that the process maintains gains and control.
Lean Six Sigma, is a well-known approach for achieving operational excellence. It improves processes and help leaders to discover innovative opportunities far beyond operations and enhance financial performance.
LEAN SIX SIGMA
(Diedra M. Greenaway, MS/MBA is an LA City Budget Advocate and is the Budget Chair of Workforce & Economic Development.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.