Monday, November 29, 2021

Lean/TPS in the Public Service – Part 2 – What are the Obstacles?

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

In my last blog, I noted that morale in the US and Canadian federal governments is at all-time lows.

Morale In The Public Sector

Moreover, the growing gap between performance in the private and public sector fuels a corrosive cynicism and disengagement – surely the last thing we need nowadays.


Why shouldn’t civil servants have the opportunity to develop what Deming called ‘pride of workmanship’? Why shouldn’t they be involved in developing and improving their work processes? Why shouldn’t their work be fun and motivating?

What are the obstacles to Lean/TPS in government? Let’s dig in

Obstacle 1: Government is culturally predisposed to making decisions for political reasons

Ontario residents are enduring a crippling example of this one. Although energy prices have never been lower, Ontario energy bills have never been higher. In fact, the past decade, Ontario energy prices have tripled, and are now among the highest in North America.

Ontario electricity has never been cheaper, but bills have never been higher.

Ontario’s Power Trip: Irrational energy planning has tripled power rates under the Liberals’ direction.

Ignoring the advice of industry & government energy professionals, the governing party has repeatedly made ill-considered forays into the notoriously tricky energy market. (Remember Enron?).

Overall cost will exceed $ 30 billion, or $ 30,000 per resident. Needless to say, the Ontario economy is blighted.

In Lean/TPS terms, the governing party has jumped to countermeasures to an ill-defined problem, and made a mess. Pity the poor government engineer, manager or executive working to develop rationale countermeasures to clearly define problems!

Obstacle 2: Absence of customer or client feedback

Rule 2 of Lean/TPS states that ‘customer-supplier connections must be direct, binary and self-diagnostic’. Such connections drive improvement in the private sector and sometimes contribute to it in health care and education.

Our Toyota plant (TMMC) had abundant feedback through multiple sources including organizations like J. D. Power, and our 3/6/9 month in service audits. My dad’s legendary restaurant, The Imperial Grill, also sought and received direct, frequent & binary customer feedback.

The most common checkpoint was the plates coming back. “Hey Martha,” Dad would say, “you didn’t finish your moussaka. Didn’t you like it?”

“Oh yes, Frankie, it was delicious. But it was big for me.”

“But you liked it! Okay, Spiro wrap it for the lady. She can have the rest at home!”

Obstacle 3: No Continuity of Leadership

Building an integrated management system took us five years at TMMC – and we had constancy of purpose and leadership. (Not to mention splendid, tolerant senseis)
Do government organizations have the same?

Are there any countermeasures?

Difficult obstacles, no?

I invite our readers to share their thoughts on countermeasures. I’ll mull it over too.

The stakes are high for public service members, and for the public.

Best regards,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Is Lean/TPS Possible in the Public Service? – Part 1
Henry & Edsel Ford – the Pride & the Sorrow
Ethics Enables Leadership
Leadership in Times of Crisis


Monday, November 15, 2021

Is Lean/TPS Possible in the Public Service? – Part 1

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Senior public sector leaders asked W. Edwards Deming asked this question in the early 1980’s.

His approach was working in companies around the world. Would it work in the public service?

“I don’t know,” Deming said.

Some diligent leaders ran experiments – with decidedly mixed success.

Adapting Total Quality Management (TQM) to Government,

Quality Comes to City Hall

As a general rule, government departments most similar to private sector operations had the greatest success – (e.g. a city’s motor equipment division which maintained & repaired its cars & trucks).

But the literature suggests that even those areas were unable to sustain continuous improvement, which as we know, entails building a supporting management system.

That said, our colleague, Gary Vansuch, has cited encouraging activities in the U.S. Department of Transport. Well done, folks, and please continue.

What are the obstacles to Lean in government? I’ll explore this question in upcoming blogs.

There’s a great deal at stake. Good people are giving their all to continuous improvement in government. Why shouldn’t civil servants have the opportunity to develop what Deming called ‘pride of workmanship’?

Why shouldn’t they be involved in developing and improving their work processes? Why shouldn’t their work be fun and motivating?

In fact, morale in the US and Canadian federal governments is at all-time lows.

Good news: Federal worker morale has finally bottomed out. Bad news: It’s still terrible.

Morale In The Public Sector

Moreover, the growing gap between performance in the private and public sector fuels a corrosive cynicism and disengagement – surely the last thing we need nowadays.

More to come.

Best regards,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Henry & Edsel Ford – the Pride & the Sorrow
Ethics Enables Leadership
Leadership in Times of Crisis
More on Walt Disney


Monday, November 1, 2021

Henry & Edsel Ford – the Pride & the Sorrow

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Reading The Arsenal of Democracy, A. J. Baime’s splendid account of how Detroit answered President Roosevelt’s call for weaponry to combat the Axis Powers.

In 1941, as Hitler’s threat loomed ever larger, President Roosevelt realized he needed weaponry to fight the Nazis—most important, airplanes—and he needed them fast.

The Arsenal of Democracy tells the story of how Detroit answered the call, centering on Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, a troubled visionary at odds with his increasingly cruel and paranoid father.

When asked if they could deliver 50,000 airplanes, Edsel made an outrageous claim: Ford Motor Company would erect a plant that could yield a “bomber an hour.”

Critics jeered: Ford can’t make planes; they make simple, affordable cars! Bucking his father’s resistance, Edsel charged ahead. Ford would apply assembly-line production to the American military’s largest, fastest, most destructive bomber.

They would build a plant vast in size and ambition on a plot of farmland and call it Willow Run. They would bring in tens of thousands of workers from across the country, transforming Detroit, almost overnight, from Motor City to the “great arsenal of democracy.”

And eventually they would help the Allies win the war.

Edsel emerges as a tragic, Gatsby-like figure hounded to his death by the sadistic, and possibly demented Henry. Henry’s paranoia and cruelty in his later years are in sharp contrast to his earlier energy, creativity and philanthropy.

He remains the pride and sorrow of American manufacturing. The same words apply to Edsel, though for different reasons.

Mass production and the Ford System, revolutionary at the time, were crucial to the Allied victory. Without Edsel’s vision and drive the war might have dragged on for years.

Ironically, a generation later, the Ford system was obsolesced by Toyota and other challengers.

‘T was ever thus. Each generation challenges the achievements of the last.

We lost Edsel in his prime to stomach cancer. Was it linked to Henry’s continuous abuse?

I can’t help wondering: What if Edsel have lived?

Would the Ford system have evolved quicker and been better able to meet the Toyota challenge? Sadly, we’ll never know.

But it’s good to see Edsel Ford get due recognition. A splendid, talented and generous man, dealt a difficult hand, he played his cards with courage and vision.

Edsel Ford is one of WWII’s unsung heroes.

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Ethics Enables Leadership
Leadership in Times of Crisis
More on Walt Disney
Walt Disney -- Lean Thinker


Monday, October 18, 2021

Ethics Enables Leadership

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Our Ethics blogs have generated plenty of good buzz -- thanks all!

A few more thoughts. Ethics enables Leadership - the way standardized work (STW) enables front line work.


STW reflects our current best and safest way of doing a given job. If we work to STW, we're confident we'll produce good quality & volume, with safety.

In a very real sense, STW protects us, giving us stability, continuity, confidence and freedom from anxiety.

Ethics entails standards of behavior which, if followed, provide very similar benefits.

The Cardinal Virtues, for example, provide constancy of purpose, mutual trust with team members and market partners, and reduce the risk of attack & prosecution.

Good Ethics provides predictability. Everybody in the organization can relax and focus on the job at hand.

It's much easier to achieve our Purpose, year after year. A pretty good return, no?

Ethics enables leadership. Good Ethics is good business. Say it three times aloud.

Now, it's damn high standard, especially for lowly sinners such as your faithful Business Nomad.

But we have to try.

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Leadership in Times of Crisis
More on Walt Disney
Walt Disney -- Lean Thinker
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 3