Welcome to the Office of Lean Enterprise


Iowa Partners in Efficiency Award
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What is Lean?

Lean is a collection of principles, methods and tools that improve the speed and efficiency of any process by eliminating waste. Although Lean originated in Toyota’s manufacturing operations - known as the Toyota Production System – the tools have been successfully applied in organizations across all sectors. Please see the Results section of the site for a list of achievements.

How Does Lean Work?

Lean recognizes that for most processes only 5% of activities add value for the customer, which means that 95% are either necessary non-value adding activities or waste. By clearly defining value for a specific service or product from the customer’s perspective, non value activities and waste can be targeted for removal. Eliminating waste is the greatest potential source of improvement in process performance and customer service. Once waste has been identified, processes are redesigned to allow service, information or product to flow through the new process without interruption.

When is Lean Used?

Lean methods and tools apply to any process where an employee*:

  • Chases information in order to complete a task
  • Must jump through multiple decision loops
  • Is constantly interrupted when trying to complete a task
  • Is engaged in expediting (of reports, purchases, materials, etc.)
  • Does work in batches
  • Finds work lost in the "white space" between organizational silos
  • Doesn't know what they don't know"

*From Lean Six Sigma for Service by Michael L. George

What are the Benefits of Using Lean?

Using Lean tools an organization can expect to:

  • Eliminate or dramatically reduce backlogs
  • Reduce lead times by more than 50%
  • Decrease the complexity of processes
  • Improve the quality of applications and the consistency of reviews or inspections
  • Allocate more staff time to "mission critical" work
  • Improve staff morale and process transparency

Lean in Iowa State Government

During the 81st General Assembly, legislation was passed that authorized the Department of Management to lead the expansion of Lean efforts in Iowa state government. The Office of Lean was created within the Department of Management to promote and facilitate continuous improvement through the use of a specific set of proven tools and methodologies collectively known as Lean. This Web site serves as the central location of information and resources to assist state agencies in their Lean journey.