The Maryland World Class Consortia and Lean Government

Governments at all levels across the country are struggling to maintain services that are responsive, high quality, and low cost.  Maryland is no exception.  The financial pressure to do more with less has never been greater than it is today.  Government officials and employees are using many tools to close the gap.  But most have yet to learn about an approach that private industry has been using for decades – an approach that can produce dramatic results: Lean Government. 

Since 1996, the Maryland World Class Consortia has helped organizations of all types understand performance improvement methods to enhance competitiveness and grow the economy.  We began with a focus on manufacturers, but have expanded our scope over 15-plus years to include other segments important to Maryland’s economic strength: small business, biotechnology, health care, education, and more.

Given the clear need in Maryland and across the country to do more with less, along with lean's proven capacity to deliver results and the MWCC's expertise in this area, the Maryland World Class Consortia is proud to offer services and support to government agencies and departments of all types and at all levels. 

What is “Lean”? 

“Lean” is a continuous improvement philosophy that gets everyone involved in satisfying constituents/citizens/customers better and eliminating waste in processes.  It relies on simple, common sense principles to create a culture where everyone becomes a part of solving problems.  Lean improves any organization’s results for customers, the organization itself, and employees.

What “Lean” is Not:

  • Lean is not a management fad.  Lean has a proven track record of success going back more than half a century.
  • Lean is not just for manufacturing.  Lean started with Toyota.  But leading organizations of all types have made dramatic improvements using lean: Dell, Southwest Airlines, Capital One, Cleveland Clinic, and many more. Over the last decade, governments across the country have proven that lean works for the public sector, too.
  • Lean is not top-down or temporary.  Lean requires the involvement and support of leaders, but the engine is people. Lean engages everyone in the organization to improve processes, across all functions and levels.  Lean is a journey, not a destination, and many governments have proven that the pursuit of perfection is endless: there are enormous opportunities to improve. 
  • Lean is not about headcount reduction.  A core principle of lean is Respect for People.  Using lean with the blind aim to reduce workforce is counterproductive to lean’s ultimate aim: a positive, efficient, and customer-focused culture.

It is important to note that arguments about the proper size and role of government have existed since the founding of our republic.  It is a healthy and necessary debate, and American's answers have been different at different times.  "Lean" may imply "small" to some, but small government with a limited role and services is a political decision, not an operational one.  Lean is an approach that appeals to people of any party.  Whatever your belief about government's reach and role, everyone should be able to agree that government should be as efficient as possible.  Lean is not a "red" or "blue" issue. Lean is bipartisan. Lean is "purple"!

What is “Lean Government”?

Lean government is lean principles and tools applied to the processes of government.  As in other sectors, public and private, lean helps government leaders and employees in a number of ways:

  • Understand their processes and why they deliver the results that they currently do
  • Quickly identify problems and develop improvements
  • Build a culture of continuous improvement

Lean is a systematic method of improving service to customers/constituents, increasing the capacity of government, and lowering costs.  Lean has documented dramatic benefits across all branches of government (executive, judicial, legislative), all functions (administration, education, law enforcement, public works), and all levels (federal, state, county, local).

See Examples of Lean Government:

Minnesota Commission Calls For Expanding Lean Deployment

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Speeds Permitting

Minnesota State Services for the Blind Radically Improves Service

Connecticut Governors Redouble Commitment to Lean Government

California's Ventura County Service Excellence Program Delivers Strong Results

New York's Executive of Erie County Running His County Like a Business

Jacksonville's Top Cop Wins a Third Term with Lean

Learn more about lean government in an article in Governing magazine. 

MWCC's Support of Lean Government in Maryland:

In the summer of 2011, the MWCC hosted its inaugural Maryland Lean Government Conference, a landmark effort to orient forward thinkers in Maryland government to lean.  The session included an overview of lean and lean government, case study examples of lean government, a description of services offered by the Consortia, and tips for getting started.

Beginning in the summer of 2012, the MWCC began offering a nine-day course on Improving Government with Lean Thinking.  The course is designed to give employees in government, education, and non-profit organizations the training and tools necessary to get to results quickly with lean methods.  The course is offered at least once a year.  More information is here.

The MWCC annually holds a special track of presentations focusing on Lean Government at the Mid-Atlantic Lean Conference

For more information about Lean Government and how the MWCC can help your government office or agency, contact Joyce La Padula, at 

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