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Summer: Vacations, Projects and Lean

By Stew Henderson, Results Washignton

I recently heard a corporate executive say, “Lean only took off for us when people went from being willing to being eager.”

I immediately thought of family vacations. Is it enough for the kids (let alone a spouse) to be “willing” to go on a trip? Do you really want to suffer a week of eye rolls, headphones and “whatever”s?

Unless the gang is eager, it won’t be much fun. Eager people contribute, make it work, and turn a stressful drive into a memory-filled adventure.

The same dynamic is true at work. The most effective teams are eager to experiment with better ways of serving citizens. That’s the essence of Lean.

Lean often looks at first like just a bunch of tools. As an amateur carpenter and veteran of many home projects, I can relate.

But here’s the thing. Lean, like carpentry, isn’t just tools. The tools are just ways to get to future benefits.

At home, those future benefits might be the shade of a grape arbor or the fun of a treehouse.

At work in government, the future benefits are usually about helping people and improving lives. It’s noble work, and Lean tools and principles can help.

After vacation, want to pick up a hammer?

Stew Henderson is a fellow in Results Washington’s fellowship program.