Marathon County is Going Lean
What is Lean?
Lean is process by which Marathon County identifies ways in which to improve the speed and efficiency of service provision by reducing non-value added activity/waste. Lean has its origins in manufacturing. However, Lean has been successfully applied in all sectors including government. Marathon County began its Lean journey three years with the assistance of UW-Stout’s Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center. After experiencing great success in the termination of parental rights process, Marathon County decided to pursue bringing Lean expertise in house. Marathon County has ten staff who volunteered to be trained in Lean and now serve as our Lean facilitators.
How does Lean Work?
Every service process can be continuously improved. Lean methodically defines value for a specific service from the customer’s perspective, identifies activities that add no value to the service, and works to eliminate or reduce the non-value added activity. The service process is redesigned to allow work to flow through the process without interruption. Eliminating waste is the greatest potential source of improvement in performance and customer service.
Marathon County is facing shrinking budgets. When positions are vacated work is redistributed rather than filling the position. Lean provides an opportunity to increase capacity within our workforce without adding staff. Marathon County has unwieldy processes that we have continued to add to without taking a step back to determine if we still need to being doing the activities we are doing. This has led to stressful work environments and not being responsive to our customers, the citizens of Marathon County.
What are the Benefits of Using Lean?
Lean reduces the time it takes to complete tasks, removes redundancy in processes and increases the quality of the work completed. It creates an environment in which an employee can complete a day’s work in a day. Lean identifies opportunities for cross training and flexibility. By eliminating non-value added activity more time is available to complete value added tasks, answer questions and provide service to the residents of Marathon County. Lean improves the work environment and strengthens team work. Employees have an increased sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.