Obama's Lean Government?

Obama appointed a Chief Performance Officer to the White House staff. Nancy Killefer comes from McKinsey & Co. Upon her appointment, Mrs. Killefer said, "Most of the operational issues that the government faces today have developed over decades and will take time to address," she told the news conference. "But there is an urgency to begin now."

It's never too late to start the learning journey.

Personally, I'm a bit skeptical about this appointment. This is like hiring a Lean consultant and expecting them to solve other peoples' problems, it just doesn't work well in the long term. Obama would be well served to follow the lead of some state and local leaders in government:

This link brings you to an article about Lean in Government.

Here are some links to State offices related to improvement.

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At January 14, 2009 at 7:24 AM , Blogger Lester said...

There is more going on that just hiring consultants. You have the Iowa link, we also have a 4 person Lean team in HUD, and a couple in EPA. The movement is starting with some tentative first steps. We plan a Lean exchange of government ideas in Iowa this June. Onward....

At January 14, 2009 at 3:13 PM , Blogger Mark Graban said...

What makes you compare Ms Killefer to anything related to "Lean"?

I'm sure she's talented, but is that her background, at all???

At January 14, 2009 at 8:54 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

The impression one gets in the papers is that a Chief Performance Officer will lead the government in improving it's performance. I'm assuming that she isn't their to lead the government to ruin. With that said McKinsey & Co. has been known for their work in Lean practices. I don't know if her background is in Lean or not. I'm not trying to compare Killefer to anything related to Lean per say, but one gets the impression that the notion of improvement is in her mind, as the CPO, and many Lean practitioners may equate improvement to this role. Whether that implies any Lean practices truly does remain to be seen. My point here is that whether it is lean, six sigma or some blend of techniques, I seriously don't know how a figurehead in the White House cabinet is going to lead the performance improvement effort. I for one would like to see what her plans are for the performance improvement plan in the next four years.

At January 16, 2009 at 7:52 PM , Blogger Mark Graban said...

Yes, as Dr. Deming would ask about her job to improve performance... "by what method??

It sounds like her job is to set targets and manage/track them.

Sigh, typical Management by Objectives?

As Deming would ask, "If you could get improvement by just setting targets, why not set different targets or why not last year?" (he said something like that, I believe.)

Sorry I'm cynical about this. She has a tough road ahead, fighting against earmarks and gov't waste.


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