Last time I told the sorry tale of my friend John, who for altruistic reasons, sought Greek citizenship.
He ended up in the kind of situation Franz Kafka described so well -- foggy, corrupt, wasteful & ultimately sinister.
Are there any insights & lessons for Lean thinkers?
For a start, we can identify the types of waste John experienced: delay, over-processing, defects, motion, transportation and knowledge waste.
We can infer the following about the Greek Ministry of Citizenship:
- They don't understand, or care to understand, their customer
- Therefore, they do not have (or care to have) processes that meet the customer's needs
- Working at the Ministry of Citizenship is not, therefore, a value-creating job -- because there is no connection to any customer
- (In fact, Greek government jobs are often sinecures -- favors provided for voting a certain way.)
Am I being harsh?
Perhaps, but acknowledging the problem is the first step toward a remedy.
Governmental agencies around the world are prone to this dynamic.
Policy makers take heed!
Excellence in public service can be a major competitive advantage -- or disadvantage.
Public servants deserve what Deming called "pride of workmanship" -- the right to be involved in designing, and improving their work.
(A growing number of public sector colleagues have effected & sustained kaizen. Full speed ahead, folks!)
John told me his story in a beautiful outdoor cafe in Toronto's prosperous Greektown.
All around us, Canadians of Greek descent went about their business with purpose & energy.
(Canadian-, American- and Australian-Greeks are top of the class in education, income, and business ownership.)
"Why," John asked, "do Greeks need to leave Greece to prosper?"
John suggested Lean Pathways could help improve service in the Greek bureaucracy.
I'm not so sure.
Underlying the Greek bureaucracy is a set of dysfunctional mental models, which make process kaizen impossible.
For example, "the customer - who cares?" (Or "Why is that man bothering me?")
Let me conclude with a question.
How do you change mental models in the Greek bureaucracy, or any large organization?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!