A study of the uniqueness of lean methodologies when applied to public service organizations




Flores Garcia, Emma Estefania

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Nowadays, public service organizations are confronted with reduced government spending while having to improve service efficiencies, and to fulfill citizens' mounting expectations. The application of lean methodologies and concepts is one viable long-term option to improve effectiveness in the public service sector. However, this sector presents a set of unique challenges and characteristics which may affect the success of lean implementations, such as the lack of competition, standardized work, performance metrics and defined customer requirements; in addition to potential staff's resistance to change. This thesis presents findings resulting from analysis of 118 case studies found in government agencies and in open published literature, with a focus on the relationship between the desired goals of the agencies and the lean tools used to achieve them. Results show that most organizations focused on one-time rapid improvement events and mostly used general guiding lean six-sigma tools such as value stream mapping, kaizen, standardized work, and DMAIC. This research presents recommendations to better define service value in public sectors, suggests the implementation of a framework adapted for public service managers who wish to start lean and six-sigma programs, and the use of specific lean tools which have not been utilized in the public service sector. These will contribute to overcoming the challenges for public sectors in using lean and six-sigma.


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Hoshin Kanri, lean, lean methodologies, Lean Six Sigma, public sector, public service organizations



Mechanical Engineering