1st Edition

A Public-Sector Journey to Lean Fighting Muda in Times of Muri

By Kate McGovern Copyright 2019
    215 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    215 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    Most Lean practitioners learn about the three Ms: muda (waste), mura (unevenness or variability), and muri (overburden), and beginners in Lean generally focus on the removal of muda.

    The impact of muri is not as readily understood. It is extremely significant, however, for those working in government. Decisions on staffing levels and resource allocation are made by elected officials who are generally disconnected from daily operations. Short-sighted cost-cutting makes it difficult to deliver quality services as efficiently as possible. The mantra of "do more with less" creates ever-increasing muri.

    In contrast to robust Lean programs in privately owned companies, efficiency initiatives are regularly cut from public-sector budgets. Antiquated systems remain in place, with too few workers to operate the existing processes. The debilitating impact of persistent muri brings burnout and turnover, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

    Despite the muri, a dedicated cadre of public servants is hard at work using Lean techniques and principles to break down bureaucratic red tape and improve the quality of services at every level of government across the country. While the author incorporated examples of Lean initiatives in other states to give readers an idea of all the terrific work that is occurring, this book is really the story of one of those journeys.

    Using the author’s experience while working for the State of New Hampshire, you’ll learn about the steps along the way. Each chapter tells a story of what they did, what they learned, and how the lessons can be applied. Annotated outlines of White, Yellow, and Green Belt programs, and the Lean for Leaders workshop, as well as two hypothetical scenarios that were used as training exercises are included. These approaches are not intended to be authoritative or prescriptive; they are offered as insights and examples.

    You’ll read about the challenges and pitfalls, and the creative countermeasures developed by a dauntless team of Lean practitioners. The story is shared to inform and encourage others -- material based on the New Hampshire Bureau of Education and Training’s Lean programs is included throughout the book.

    Introduction to Lean, Muda, and Muri. Chapter 1 Getting Started. Chapter 2 Follow the Yellow Belt Road. Chapter 3 You’re the Night Shift. Chapter 4 Go for the Green Belt. Chapter 5 How to Get Away with Muda. Chapter 6 Six Sigma vs. Six Signatures and Six Weeks. Chapter 7 Lean for Leaders. Chapter 8 Run Government Like a Business. Chapter 9 Orange is the New Green. Chapter 10 Paths through Muri. Appendix A: Agenda for the White Belt program. Appendix B: Training Exercise for a Yellow Belt Class. Appendix C: Instructions for Facilitators Leading Projects in Yellow Belt Classes. Appendix D: Training Exercise for a Green Belt Class. Appendix E: Lean Training Programs.


    Kate McGovern, MPA, Ph.D. is a Lean trainer and practitioner for New Hampshire’s Bureau of Education and Training (BET) since 2009 when she was inspired by a Lean course taught for BET by Maine’s Sam McKeeman. Working with her colleagues at BET, Kate designed a series of White, Yellow, Green Belt programs that facilitated the development of a Lean Network in New Hampshire. She has participated in regional Lean events, both as a speaker and trainer. She assisted in the development of a Lean training program for the Vermont Agency of Transportation through Daniel Penn Associates, and has conducted training for the New England States’ Government Finance Officers’ Association (NESGFOA), and she currently coordinates New Hampshire’s Lean Black Belt program.

    Kate is a graduate of the University of Hartford and Fielding Graduate University and the author of Challenges in Pension Governance: A Case Study of the New Hampshire Retirement System.