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Raissa Carey

Six Sigma

Cape Coral’s Lean Mission

Since its lean government implementation in 2007, the Florida city has saved millions

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010 - 06:00

Since 2007, Cape Coral, Florida, has adopted a mission to eliminate waste in all processes and operate in a more effective and efficient manner. Since then, the city has achieved more than $2 million in cost savings and performed 18 kaizen events to reduce costs and increase productivity without affecting the quality of services delivered to the local citizens.

The lean government program is the most valuable program that was ever brought to the city, according Terrance Stewart, Cape Coral’s former city manager.

With the help of an outside consultancy, city government teams were created to map and streamline processes by eliminating any unnecessary steps. The success in this phase of the lean implementation is in having the employees suggest the changes, after all, they’re the ones who know what the process is about, Stewart says.

“Lean government infuses employees at all levels into the improvement process. It taps the resources, the knowledge, the skills, the ability and the experience that they bring to an organization. It allows them to have buy-in, it allows them to have ownership to what is being done,” he says.

Improvement today can be seen throughout many departments. Time to obtain a building permit, for instance, was reduced from 21 to eight days. Time to recruit new firefighters was cut from 66 to 30 days. The public work/services division reduced assistance time from a two-year to a six-month wait.

Besides the cost savings and improved processes, the lean effort paid off in the form of an award. In 2009, Cape Coral got the Strategic Leadership Award from the International City/County Management Association for its lean government program.

The city has been trying to stay lean in a lean economy and next year challenges will probably continue. The city won’t hire outside consultants to help in the lean government effort, as it has been doing since the beginning, as the Cape Coral Daily Breeze recently reported. However, government staff will continue to seek new opportunities for improvement and cost savings, striving to keep its lean mission possible.

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Raissa Carey