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Applying Lean in the Public Sector

In this paper, Professor Peter Hines outlines his beliefs regarding the current state of applying lean in the public sector. He considers these applications to be shallow and like to suffer from sustainability issues in the future. He argues that this may be due to inappropriate advise received from third party agencies with ‘quick win’ solutions.

Professor Hines refers to the Lean Iceberg model to explain why lean in the public sector may  be falling short of the mark. The model identifies the common and visible manifestations of lean as being ‘above the waterline’. These are tools, techniques and processes all of which are well established in ‘off the shelf’ lean solutions. However, sustainable lean requires the application of the less visible manifestations of strategy, alignment, leadership, behaviour and engagements.

Most ‘off the shelf’ solutions pay ‘lip service’ to these more complex but crucial aspects of sustainable lean transformation.  In summary, the public sector is not immune to the benefits that lean can bring, however, it does currently suffer from the poor application of largely tool-based solutions.

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