Lean Six Sigma in U.S. Federal Government?

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    The American Society for Quality has been advocating increased adoption of LSS in the U.S. federal government. Lean, yes. There are tremendous opportunities to reduce waste. But given that quality is the measure of how well a product or service satisfies customer needs, expectations, and specifications, does Six Sigma make sense? Many legislators and agencies seem to serve special interests, political doctrine, or political expediency at the expense of all else. Could SS help them to better serve citizens in general?



    Hey, Dog: Newt Gingrich has also been advocating LSS (interestingly, crediting Michael George as the creator – hmmmm). The problem that I see is that for LSS to be effective, you need to have clear and measurable outputs. Political objectives rarely are clear or measurable, thus, I feel this would be a real boondoggle. Not that the methods/tools wouldn’t help, just that the real objectives are usually not apparent or acknowledged so you’d always be chasing ghosts.

    Just my humble opinion.



    I fear that the Feds would indulge practitioners to pursue D, M, and A. However, any attempt to “move somebody’s cheese” during the I phase would be, as Roosevelt once said, like trying to punch a pillow. (And Gingrich may be adept at buzz words, but his actions speak of a mind set that is light years away from anything remotely LSS – not that changing parties would lead to any improvement, either.)



    The problem with LSS in government is the financial incentives. In the private sector my projects yielded hard savings – a very good thing. In the government my projects yield soft savings. Producing hard savings is viewed as a negative. Its all due to the culture.

    For most governmental units (federal/state) you’re highly encouraged to spend every dime in your budget. If not, and you actually turn money back in, your likely to get that much less the following year even if your able to demonstrate a need.

    Lots of culture change must take place before LSS is truly successful in government. After working in it for 2 years now (rather banging my head against it) I’m actively looking for work again in the private sector.


    Rob Fioto

    Hello All,

    Much of that is changing – slowly. Currently, the biggest motivator for LSS in Government is fear of loss and/or the saving of lives. Basically, many GOVie leaders are trying to figure out how to survive the $100B+ in budget cuts while maintaining the integrity of their mission. Several hundred GOVies (over 90 agencies) have joined a movement called the Federal Improvement Team (FIT). Unlike the direction of Newt or Michael George, this group is working together to optimize the use of Open-Source LSS (and 50 other quality religions) for use in the Government. Thus far they have yielded over ROI of over 600X.

    The FIT meets every two weeks online to share resources, training, tools and case studies. If you are a GOVie, you might want to check them out.



    I do not think SS will help them to better serve citizens in general. Politician always care about their shorterm interest.

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