In February, Sandra Spencer, an Administrative Service Manager at the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office in Los Angeles, wrote about how Lean Six Sigma was applied to improve the delivery of services and decrease costs of what her department does. Bear in mind, this is a department that provides birth, marriage and death certificates for the county’s 9.8 million residents, as well as handling real estate records, business filings and voter registrations. It deals with about 200 elections for schools, cities and special districts every year. Daily, the department deals with about 2,000 customers.

In March, 2011, the Department Head, Dean C. Logan, set out to improve the department’s service delivery and turned to the Lean Sigma approach. Six staff members were trained and certified. Those six individuals — working in different areas of the department — each chose an improvement project to work on and of those six, four projects were undertaken.

Trying to improve the services of an agency who offers so many services might seem unwieldy. However, Spencer wrote that the key to solving some of the delivery dilemmas involved the concept of “Shrinking the Change” — that is, tackling a lot of little issues through a series of quick, easily-implemented changes. These small changes, she explained, resulted in a big change.

With management buy-in, the inclusion, input and involvement of line staff, and the advice of a Lean Six Sigma consultant, the department began to receive both internal and external recognition for the improvements they made. With each accomplishment, the staff’s desire to make more improvements increased. One area of the department — the business filing and registration division — was so successful in its desired improvements that it, along with the Lean Six Sigma Team, was recognized by the Board of Supervisors with a L.A. County Stars Award.

As L.A. County has discovered, Lean Six Sigma works. It can work for you, too.

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