In what should be good news for taxpayers, governments across the country are beginning to commit in a big way to implementing Lean Six Sigma.
Now, Kern County, California, is taking Six Sigma down to an even more local level. County leaders have committed to training more than 200 employees in Lean Six Sigma methodology, and the county is about to take the next steps in implementing Lean.
Their goal is similar to the goal for organizations: identify areas of waste, find solutions to improve the process and provide more efficient, quality services to customers, or in this case, Kern County residents.
The Mother of Invention
Kern County began looking into Six Sigma because of a reduction in revenue that has hit the county in recent years due to a downturn in the oil and gas industry. The county, which includes the city of Bakersfield, is located north of Los Angeles.
Faced with budget shortfalls, Kern County faced the need to cut personnel and services. But county leaders choose another strategy earlier this year, deciding to implement Lean methodology to make county operations more efficient.
“Anything that can save the county money and allow us to operate more efficiently and productively, while still maintaining a high-quality level of service to our constituents, should be put to use,” Zack Scrivner, a county supervisor, said about Lean earlier this year.
The county has now launched a website that discusses its use of Lean Six Sigma and outlines the county’s goals for putting the methodology into place.
It includes the following strategic initiatives:
- Enhancing quality of life for residents – This includes hiring more deputies, fully staffing the county fire department, continuing library services at the current level and funding a spay and neutering program
- Becoming a model of excellence for county governments – This includes improving the efficiency of the EMS and fire services, avoiding layoffs of key personnel and negotiating with labor to find areas of potential ongoing cost reductions
- Fostering a culture of innovation – This includes the deployment of Lean across all county departments to find areas of waste and inefficiency, replacing an outdated email system and enhancing the use of social media to improve employee engagement and hiring practices
Kern County also is committing to continuous improvement through implementation of the Six Sigma strategy known as DMAIC, which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control. Again, the specific goal is to reduce costs and improve services – and also maintain those improvements over time.
As part of its commitment to transparency in the process, Kern County has dedicated a section of its website to information on where the county stands on its Lean implementation. That currently includes completion of training for 200 employees and identifying 25 people who will become “deployment leaders” for using Six Sigma and Lean on specific projects within county government.
Governments can benefit from Lean methodology, and many will watch what Kern County does to see the potential of Six Sigma and government. For leaders in Kern County, it’s provided an innovative approach to solving ongoing financial problems.