The key to Government Quality and Improvement’s (GQI) ability to enable organizations to achieve breakthrough performance is that it busts the long-standing government myth that there is an iron triangle of cost, speed, and quality.
The legend goes that you can have up to 2 of these elements, but that it will cost you the third. GQI has repeatedly demonstrated that in government entities GQI can deliver all 3 elements.
The key to breaking the iron triangle myth is that, through Theory of Constraints, we understand that the bottlenecks in our process are not only slowing down our process, but they’re often impacting quality as well. When the work moves through the system more quickly and with fewer instances of having to redo work, it enables considerable decreases in cost per unit because each “unit” requires less effort to produce at a high quality standard.
Train practitioners within an organization to transfer critical skills and create “local” experts.
This is key to transforming an organization and permanently inculcating these values.
Does not focus solely management and leaders.
Goals and objectives are set by leadership, but when the staff play an integral role in the improvement they are not only willing to make the changes but, in fact, eager to implement the changes because they understand how their services and their own roles will improve.
Relies heavily on data to make decisions.
Reengine instills the ability to understand relevant intelligence in the, typically, mountains of raw data government organizations possess to separate the signal from the noise. Data is routinely monitored after each project to ensure the improvement “sticks.”
It is also critical to note that none of ReEngine’s process improvement results are created through IT solutions.
IT solutions can sometimes be used as an alternative to actual improvement. The organization isn’t actually enhanced if one merely automates a bad process. Any suggestion of an IT solution must be included only as a component of a much more comprehensive process of improvement.
This is accomplished through the adoption of the 4 pillars of ReEngine’s Government Quality and Improvement methodology.
This is a high-level strategic perspective on the organization that identifies the primary value produced, the core bottleneck affecting the process, and the definition of What Good Looks Like (WGLL) for the organization. This tool guides the organization through process improvement efforts, directing the use of Lean and Six Sigma tools.
The tool breaks up annual targets for the division into smaller weekly or monthly targets for each team.
Thus, instead of measuring against an annual target of say, 1,200 permits processed, say, 3-4 per person per week depending on team size. Organization leadership does not need to wait until halfway through the year to determine if the teams are on target to attain 1,200. If in February the teams are not regularly hitting 3 - 4 permits per person per week, then leadership knows that action must be taken to right the ship.
The time to onboard new staff is reduced because SOPs are excellent tools for training. Additionally, improvements to the process can be standardized and distributed more quickly, ensuring the improvements deliver the Return on Investment that much faster and more reliably.
These Visual SOPs include the benefits of the Value Stream Map, providing not only a visual version of the SOP, but also indicating where value is added in the process, important handoffs of documents, etc., and the optimistic/goal/pessimistic timeframes for each step in the process.
It is important for both accountability and transparency that management and leadership regularly review key performance indicators for processes in their organizations.
Additionally, when staff know that leadership will be reviewing the metrics, they strive to perform, and a healthy, positive competition can arise between teams. This atmosphere fosters not only high performance, but innovation as well.
How do we get this to go beyond a strategy for temporary actions to a true transformation of culture? As management visionary Peter Drucker points out, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Without the cultural change, the improvements are transitory.
These 3 binding elements form the glue of ReEngine’s methodology, binding the education of process improvement with the 4 Pillars to transform an organization.
The key difference is that they feel a sense of purpose in their work and a call to serve. It’s often the case that public sector employees think that their jobs cannot get any better, insofar as achieving more with less effort, and so they become somewhat jaded.
If they can see their work life improvement through efficiency/effectiveness enhancements and see management validate and tap that sense of purpose, they will often improvement on their own and begin to find additional efficiencies outside of the dedicated improvement projects.
This strong sense of purpose will push the organization to spend every dollar on the biggest impact for the citizens and look internally for maximum efficiency before looking to additional funds from the public.
A very common element that prevents transformation into a continuously improving organization is a failure to achieve focus. An organization’s focus is frequently fragmented and shattered on the myriad of demands put on public servants, lost on multitasking, and lost on all the rules and “Cover Your Action” mechanisms that are built into processes over time.
While there are many things to distract an organization’s focus, there are also many tools that can be used to help focus an organization and allow it to zero in on its core value and achieving quality production at the lowest possible cost.
The primary and most significant of these tools are the Theory of Constraint 5 Focusing Steps. This is the fundamental contribution of Theory of Constraints to the realm of government, which is revolutionary in that it has all levels of the organization (executives, management, and front-line staff) work to identify, marshal, and then improve the primary bottleneck in the process.
This stands for Quality Throughput over Operational Expense. This is a critical metric that is, essentially, a measure of the cost per unit but adjusted for quality. It measures how many quality units (of whatever the process produces) does the organization receive for each dollar it spends on the process.
This measure both encourages and can measure the reduction of waste and inefficiency, the elimination of disruptive variation, and help organizations zero in on goal product to achieve the lowest price for taxpayers.
Management achieves its goals and objectives for the organization.
Citizens that receive or pay for those services much quicker and at a higher quality level.
A win for the government employee because it streamlines their processes, allowing them to achieve more with less effort.
For most comprehensive improvement results the effort should be agency-wide but substantive improvements are realized with through implementation at smaller teams/offices as well. ReEngine has also seen significant results at city, county, and state government entities.
Each manager knows their own objective to help the division/organization meet the targets set by leadership and, at any given time, can provide details as to where they are on that path.
From top to bottom, the organization has a drive for continuous improvement and any ideas for improvement are always welcomed by leadership and assessed by a team of improvement practitioners that can determine the ROI.
Each division of this agency has determined its cost per quality unit and can, at any time, have a discussion with external stakeholders, taxpayers, elected officials, etc., about the value they provide and the cost required to provide those services. If asked to make cuts to its budget, the agency knows where the cuts would have the least impact on core services.
Teams that take 84 days to complete an investigation can complete a higher quality investigation, taking just 4 days.
A 194 day process can evolve to better serve taxpayers in 37 days.
HUD backed loans, soaked with red tape, can be accomplished in 59 days, when it used to take 138 days.
IT software that used to be procured in 462 days can be bought, more effectively, in 240 days.
400,000 tax credit applications can be accomplished for $1.47 each when it used to cost $3.51 apiece to do 290,000.