Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A leaner public sector?

Today’s Global Business on BBC World Service was about applying the Toyota-style lean production methodology to service industries. (The podcast is avilable but only for a week or so.) Its worth noting that lean is particularly relevant to making public services more effective and customer-centred.

Lean production includes a range of tools including a focus on dealing with the seven wastes:

Defects in products
Overproduction ie the costs associated with the production or acquisition of items before they are required
Transportation of products
Inventory ie the capital costs of raw materials, Work-In-Progress (WIP) and Finished Goods
Motion of staff and equipment
Over-processing ie using a more expensive resource than is needed

The ideas of lean are already being applied in some public services such as the NHS and social housing. But much of the potential is being left untapped.

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