Public services world over are under pressure to perform and deliver faster and better services to its citizens. The budgets to run the government are limited and thus the need to cut waste and stretch every penny is felt by all those who operate government budgets. In shorts there is pressure to perform – citizens demand more, political players demand more, trade partners, neighbors and the world in general expects more from the civil service!
What does one do? The answer is simple – become efficient. Apart from good planning and programs, the Governments must improve its ability to operate better – Operational Efficiency is the mantra!
Kaizen…is a tested and proven art and science for driving higher operational efficiency. Kaizen is continual improvement – driven and sustained. Kaizen is about waste elimination. Kaizen is about people engagement to solve their own daily work challenges. Kaizen is about office efficiency and process speed and quality. Kaizen is a culture that public services / Governments are increasingly adopting to deliver REFORMS.
Let’s explore a typical Government office, this at least holds true for developing/ and just developed nations!!
Unhappy citizens/ customers: services are seldom On Time, In Full, Error Free (OTIFEF) – to both internal or external (citizens) customers, also;
- Has a lot of hidden Waste…unkept and cluttered workplaces/ offices
- Searching for data, poor filing, duplication of efforts, processes with long lead times,,
Resulting is wasted resources including People, Space, Utilities, Material, Office Equipments..and not to mention the impact it has on the morale of the civil servants/ government officials…
Probable Causes: Apart from structural issues, role clarity and accountability gaps – poor physical workplace management and broken/ poor processes. Worse still, there are NO sustained efforts to drive continual improvements within these work functions.
Thus the objective for any Government organization planning to implement KAIZEN/ Operational Excellence should be to :
Make all processes, departments, functions and thus the entire Government machinery is engaged in Kaizen …this is done by reducing/ eliminating waste from across daily work processes, by engaging people from all the levels.
The 4P model is the essence of Kaizen as applied to public services. Let’s look at this 4P model and how it applies.
The unique approach of 4P’s include:
- People Involvement: The most important aspect of a Kaizen is involvement of people at the workplace. People involvement requires sensitizing top management and team leaders, training of the Kaizen Champions and involvement of all staff members. People are provided on hand experience and Kaizen Champion are identified who would lead the standardization and regular audit efforts along with the team.
- Physical Workplace improvement: It’s clear that no quality or productivity can emerge from a dirty, disorganized and cluttered workplace. Kaizen has adopted the powerful lean tool known as 5S. E.g.: In Healthcare facility cleanliness and availability of right material with right quantity at right time is of great importance. 5S, as the name suggests is a 5 step process and originally in Japanese it is known as Seiri(Sort), Seiton (Straighten), Seiso (Scrub), Seiketsu(Standardize) and Shitsuke(Sustain).
- Process Improvement: Kaizen has a unique approach to improve existing processes and Searching for muda (non value adding activities) or considered as obstruction of flow in the services to the customers. In each location, the person responsible for the process maps the current state along with the team on a white board with the help of post it stickers to understand the process.
- Policy review: At the end of implementation a score sheet is prepared and attached to the workplace. A kaizen champion identified at each location monitors the score sheet and facilitates the audit by Kaizen team at a periodic interval.
The objective of 4th P is to support Government functions to drive all reforms in hands on manner…not merely restricted to the table discussion….. The focus of 4th P is to accelerate reform, bring action orientation to reform and bring board room to offices.
Benefits of implementing KAIZEN:
The goal is getting more with less! The typical impact of 4P includes…
- Office material availability
- Reduction of searching time
- Increase in productivity
- Reduction of the turnaround time
- Space gain
- Improved public service (time to delivery and quality of service)
- Improved work flow and service to internal customers
- Release of space converted for other purposes
- Saving of costly national resources
- Better organized workplaces in a number of offices
- Most critical – A ENERGIZED PUBLIC SERVANT
In closing, waste is everywhere and the need for continual improvement is unlimited. Developing a formal structure to implement Kaizen for continual quality improvement should be welcomed in the government. Improving quality and speed is a journey and not a training or a project.