Leaner and greener

Somehow last year I managed to miss promoting the Cardiff University’s Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC) report evaluating systems thinking in the public sector produced on behalf of the Wales Audit Office as part of its programme focusing on efficiency and the constrained public sector financial environment.

Lean and Systems Thinking in the Public Sector in Wales was published in January 2010 and written by Dr. Keivan Zokaei, Simon Elias, Brendan O’Donovan, Donna Samuel, Barry Evans and Julie Goodfellow and is an excellent guide to the subject and was even welcomed by Vanguard Consulting.

The reports conclusions as portrayed by eGov Monitor include:

“the unintended consequences of managing by targets, which led to poorer service to local residents in the form of longer end-to-end times and unnecessary extra work for the local authorities.

By redesigning their systems, the authorities were able to realise that the boundaries of the systems which they were operating stretched further than the domain in which their service had control.

Cumulatively, this evidence suggests that the benefits that can be achieved from systems thinking interventions can be even greater than expected when seen at the level of higher system interactions.”

Having posted recently about green issues around cloud and data centres, one of the attractive things about a lean approach should be taking away the complexity that requires so much computing power in the first place. If the benefits system in the UK was simplified and didn’t get changed on a regular basis there would hopefully be less ICT required centrally and locally. Of all the applications we have at my local authority much of the computing power is taken up by the revenues and benefits application, and bloated it certainly is. A lean solution would hopefully require less computing power, electricity and storage.

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