It’s not every day you hear state officials quoting Kipling and Goethe. But in a keynote speech this morning, Sam McKeeman, the Programs Manager at the Maine Bureau of Human Resources, recited the first stanza of Kipling’s “Six Honest Serving Men” to 350 or so people, gathered at the Police Standards & Training Council building in Concord, New Hampshire.
The occasion? A “Lean Summit,” organized by Governor Lynch’s office, and designed to recognize and encourage the use of streamlining strategies in state government. Although the room was full of public workers and local business leaders, the summit had elements of both a self-help seminar and a high school science fair.
“Lean is a process, it’s a culture, it’s a way of life,” Governor Lynch told the crowd. “Can principles of lean manufacturing be applied to state government?” Governor Lynch asked the crowd. “The answer is yes.” He went on, saying “we want all government to… meet the needs of the customer in the most efficient way possible.”
Lean manufacturing is a philosophy of efficiency developed by late Toyota executive Taiichi Ohno, and credited with Toyota’s success.
At the event, eight state agencies set up posters outlining the ways so called lean practices had been implemented in their departments. Each poster described a problem; a goal; their “lean” process; and results. The posters were voted on by a panel of local business leaders, and the winner – The Department of Economic Security — was presented with an award by Governor Lynch.