Lean Six Sigma works for private-sector companies, so why not big government? That’s exactly what many people want to know. Well, several years ago the U.S. government began applying Lean Six Sigma (LSS) techniques to some departments and agencies.

The U.S. Army and Navy implemented LSS in 2005 and 2006, saving a combined $2.45 billion as of 2008, according to the Forbes article, “Lean Government Six Sigma? Why Do Politicians Ignore It?” In 2010, the Defense Department implemented Lean Six Sigma in their Transportation Command Fusion Center. Recently presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich posited the idea of applying LSS techniques throughout the entire federal government.

The interest likely has to do with the growing disappointment in government inefficiencies and “perennial high federal deficits.” Unfortunately, it appears not everyone is on board with the idea.

The success of Lean Six Sigma in the private sector and select government agencies proves the system is effective. Yet Congress and the president’s lack of regard for adopting it across the board, despite its success, is both troubling and unsurprising. 

Now, it’s a matter of addressing what makes LSS successful in each public entity and applying this philosophy government-wide.

In the report, “Working Smart for Environmental Protection,” from the EPA and five state governments, the writers suggest these factors lead to LSS success:

  • Obtaining top-level management buy-in and support
  • Setting boundary conditions early
  • Scaling project scope appropriately to avoid taking on too much at one time
  • Collecting sufficient data to understand how the process is really working
  • Engaging staff continuously through all stages of planning and implementation
  • Involving external stakeholders in improvement events
  • Embracing transparency through communication of project progress
  • Holding periodic meetings to sustain improvement results

Ultimately, what this reminds us is that Lean Six Sigma offers something for all operations – public or private. For further information on LSS, what it can bring to your business, and our training programs, contact Pyzdek Institute today!

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