In this paper Dr Donna Samuel presents evidence of the spread of lean into the public sector. She identifies a number of the characteristics and challenges of lean in the public sector. First there is the general lack of awareness of lean in that sector. While this is also true of some parts of the private sector, the public sector is even further removed from the manufacturing origins of lean. Second there is an unwelcome association between lean and the current austerity measures. Third, lean in the public sector has been subject to some poor implementation and poor publicity as a result.
Dr. Samuel concludes that lean in the public sector is one of adaptation rather than blanket adoption. Furthermore she notes that some of the core concepts of lean such as value and the customer need careful consideration in a public sector context. For example, who is the customer of the prison service – the prisoner? the taxpayer? Some authors in this area suggest the concept of value as a collective in a public sector environment may be useful. It will certainly be interested to see what emerges as lean takes hold in this non-traditional lean environment.