What is Lean? & Why is it important to Jersey?
Lean developed from a system devised by Taiichi Ono, the managing director, to improve production at Toyota cars. In fact it developed from advice given by W. Edwards Demming when Toyota were wanting to break into world markets.
It is a simple system where all members of a production team from the senior manager to the apprentice are encouraged to suggest new ways on improving the process and all are given an equal voice. It is important that the way the system works is the first thing to be understood.
John Seddon was the first person to bring the system to the UK. He has refused to give it a name as this immediately leads to setting up a box ticking process. He calls it “systems thinking” and the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel was privileged to be able to question him at a hearing on 11th April 2011. The transcript of the hearing is available on the website.
In the evening I hosted a meal to enable ministers to meet John and learn about the systems thinking which would enable the States to operate more efficiently.
You can imagine my disappointment when tendering for consultants to help improve efficiency and Vanguard were not even interviewed. I should perhaps confirm that I have no financial interest in this – I just want the best for my Island.
I have, understandably taken an interest in the progress of the “lean” project and submitted a Freedom of Information request to ask for the results, so far, of the project. I was given a list of savings.
Seddon has found, over 30 years experience, that targeting the cost, as opposed to making the system and outcomes more efficient, is totally counterproductive. In fact I have asked for the details of which systems are now more efficient or productive and what improvements are there for the patients or for the public. It appears that there is some difficulty in identifying these.
So far we have spent something in the region of £664,000 on Lean. The savings to date are £1,200,000. The estimated savings over the 2017-2019 period are listed as £77 million. This is a good start but John Seddon reckoned there should be something of the order of 20% of States Expenditure. We have a way to go and a few silos to get out of!