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The power of inspiration: Washington state's fifth annual Lean conference draws nearly 2,000 people

Nearly 2,000 people from more than 50 state agencies gathered in Tacoma, Wash. recently to learn and share ways to manage their work and make government more effective.

The fifth annual Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference, hosted by us at Results Washington, drew dozens of presenters from across the country. They shared Lean principles and tools and stressed the value of ideas and problem-solving by the front-line employees closest to the work.

In the last three years, state agencies have launched dozens of Lean improvement efforts to streamline work, speed up services, improve outcomes and make things easier for customers and clients.

“We’re saving time, cutting errors, simplifying forms and improving quality,” Gov. Jay Inslee told attendees.

Fifteen agencies presented case studies and lessons learned at the conference, as did presenters from Los Angeles County, King County, Denver, Seattle, Tacoma and several other state and local governments.

There is no admission fee for the conference, but attendees are asked to bring canned food to donate. Nearly 2,700 meals’ worth of food was donated to local food banks this year.

The annual conference is an inspiring opportunity for folks to meet their peers and colleagues at other agencies and to share improvement ideas. A lot of folks at different agencies are working on similar challenges, but they don’t always have a lot of chances to compare notes, reflect and learn new things to try.

In addition to Washington state employees, the conference drew attendees from more than a dozen states and three countries.

Results Washington is Gov. Inslee’s initiative to use Lean management principles to make government more effective.

Note: Slide presentations from the event are posted online, and Results Washington will be posting video excerpts from key sessions in the coming weeks.