Whilst many government functions around the world are now adopting Lean methods to great effect, many more remain resistant to Lean. This inertia is based on an entrenched misconception that Lean processes only apply to the manufacturing sector.

For this reason, both local and national government represent fertile ground for Lean techniques to make significant contributions, improving processes, saving costs and, above all, enhancing the services they offer to their citizens.

Perspective is crucial to the success of Lean, and viewing value from the citizen’s – or customer’s -standpoint is essential. This is especially true in government where, typically, financial pressures and operational constraints have often caused organisations to lose sight of their primary function – that of serving their citizens.

Applied as a bottom-up process, Lean first changes mindsets at all levels, re-aligning the focus on providing excellent services to their citizens. This provides a robust foundation for sustainable, long-term improvements in efficiencies, saving capital for use in areas of greater need and shortening access times to services.

In this way, Lean achieves a win-win-win situation: reduced costs without a diminution of services, a happier and more engaged civil workforce and, critically, a better-served and more fulfilled populace.