Part V: Appendix

Lean 2.0 for Colorado

Our Lean Journey

Colorado formally began utilizing Lean in 2011. In the first 5 years, employee teams have executed hundreds of projects, streamlining processes and saving immeasurable time and resources for our employees and our customers.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, we need to take a hard look at how well it is working. The truth is that our method of process improvement…needs some process improvement.

We’ve learned some lessons that are helping us chart a new course. Here’s what to expect:

What we’ll do about it

Simple is powerful

Simplify materials and remove jargon; strive for simple, engaging materials that are self-explanatory and easily accessed

It takes all of us

Create ways for every employee, even those without training, to spot waste in their work area…and then do something about it

Innovation is valuable

Adopt “better practices” from ALL state departments and continually update materials to better equip our solvers

Linking improvements is critical

Develop knowledge around how align strategic Lean projects and focused front-line efforts to ensure our hard work delivers maximum benefit

Why Lean Is Critical for Colorado

Colorado State government faces several operational challenges:

We have challenging missions: Public servants are asked to perform challenging tasks for which there is no profit motive. We fill gaps in our communities, striving to make sure that we protect our citizens, our environment, and our economy.

We have complex processes: Many of our processes and systems are antiquated and no longer make sense. They have not been designed for our current reality and don’t always help our employees deliver the results that matter for their customers.

Our workforce is changing: As of 2016, it’s estimated that 40% of the State government workforce will be eligible for retirement within 5 years. We rely on their institutional knowledge and that knowledge is not faithfully recorded.

Lean helps us address these challenges by focusing on value, streamlining processes, and making jobs more fulfilling.


General Expectations

  • Incremental improvements are better than no improvements
  • Lean methods/tools are used to create capacity (where people state they are too busy)
  • Lean is used to solve a wide variety of operational problems
  • Use Lean methods and tools as part of a career development:
  • Leaders can use Lean to align and focus the organization’s operations
  • Managers can use Lean projects to help give their staff leadership opportunities
  • Frontline employees learn effective problem-solving skills
  • A Lean culture (culture of continuous improvement) takes 5 – 10 years to develop



Lean Champion

Acts as Advisor/Coach to Agency – the “go-to” person for Lean

Takes Initiative – continuously deploys lean through a variety of methods

(e.g. newsletters, training, coaching, projects, etc.)

Remains Persistent – makes incremental progress (does not take an all or nothing approach)

Is a Change Agent – uses change management to increase adoption

Shares Lessons Learned – across agency and with other Lean Champions

Senior Leaders

Supports Lean – makes Lean part of the agency’s strategic plan and/or values

Acknowledges Managers and Staff – publically and/or privately recognizes individuals who are making improvements

Incorporates Lean into Management PDs and Performance Plan – makes

10% of manager’s duties related to supporting & using Lean


Uses Lean Methods/Tools – emulates Lean behavior by using Lean to solve problems

Supports Lean – encourages staff to make improvements using Lean methods/tools

Incorporates Lean into Staff PDs and Performance Plans – works with staff to develop relevant measures related to process improvements

Removes Barriers – helps staff prioritize work so improvements can be implemented

Is Open to Testing New Ideas – allows for pilots of new processes by not discouraging staff from participating

Frontline Staff

Learns Lean basics

Gathers feedback from customers on their likes/dislikes with our current process

Identifies areas for improvement in their own work and remains open to new ideas

Common Lean Myths


Lean is…



Code for cutting staff

Helps free up staff capacity by focusing on value added activities and that may cause a few job duties to change

Only useful in manufacturing

Has been successfully used in Federal, State and Local government for more than a decade

Used only by handful of people

Is not a program or initiative – it is a way of thinking and operating that everyone in an organization uses

Only beneficial for private industry because the government doesn’t have customers

Defines customers as the end-user of a process; therefore the customer may be internal (another division or section within an organization) or external (clients, providers, citizens, legislature, etc.)

Can’t be used without extensive training

Uses common sense tools and methods, many of which can be learned in minutes and used by anyone

Not applicable to what I do, my work is unique

Provides a basic framework for solving problems and improving processes from policy and rulemaking to processing invoices and hiring and more…

The flavor of the month or year

Is non-political; Lean continues in government through several administration and political changes

Not related to our mission or strategic plan

Is how an organization’s mission and strategic plan gets done by applying Lean methods and tools to day-to-day work

Too time consuming

Is a means of building capacity (e.g. spend 3 hours making an improvement that will save you 80 hours per year)

A substitute for leadership

Requires leadership support, otherwise Lean efforts are likely to fail

Another task that leads to employee burnout

Helps to prioritize limited resources and time so that individuals are focused on value-added activities

A method that reduces the individual to a part of a process

Is a people-centered approach that empowers employees and managers to collaborate, solve problems and make improvements that ultimately benefit the customer

Only focused on eliminating steps in a process

Creates an environment where problems are viewed as opportunities and sharing lessons learned is common