2.25.2008

Will the Next Administration Be Lean?

It would be nice if our next president leads a lean administration.

What do I mean by that? First, government tends to be bloated and inefficient, doing a poor job of carrying out its mission of delivering services. A president who commits the federal government to embracing lean principles could contribute to improving service and reducing costs.

There are some isolated cases of this happening in government already, particularly in certain segments of the military. But a great deal more could be done, and that requires top leadership championing the cause of lean.

Second, if the federal government was committed not only to implementing lean strategies, but to promoting them, that would be good for business in particular and the country as a whole. There is some government support of lean now through the network of
Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) organizations, but it’s one of those useful but little-known programs. Lean promotion ought to be a priority at the cabinet level – in Commerce, for business; in Health and Human Services, for healthcare, etc.

I don’t expect this to become an issue in the presidential campaign. It is certainly not viewed as a high-priority item, it’s not a sexy issue, and there would probably be very little disagreement over it.

The more important question is whether it would become a priority for the next administration.

I’m not too hopeful. Our next president is likely to be Clinton, Obama or McCain, and they are all career politicians. That is not meant as a criticism, but simply a statement that none of the candidates has the kind of business experience that would have given them the exposure to, and understanding of, lean strategies and their value.

The best hope for having a lean administration lies in whether the next president will seek advice and counsel from all sectors of society, including business leaders, and whether he or she will listen to that advice. It probably wouldn’t hurt for good, eloquent people to begin offering that advice, even unsolicited, now.

1 comments:

Dean Bliss said...

I agree with your sentiments, but to truly have a "lean" administration, the cronyism and job appointments for political contributors must stop. So much of the inefficiency, particularly in this administration, has been caused by incompetent people being placed in jobs they can't do. If the next administration can eliminate just this one thing, we will have taken a huge step toward a more "lean" government.