Is Extreme Government Makeover Really Extreme?

Last time, we introduced Ken Miller’s work called Extreme Government Makeover. Unlike many waste cutters and efficiency improvers, Ken comes from government service. He cut his process improvement teeth working to reduce the waiting lines at the Missouri DMV. After that, he spent a decade on the road as a consultant.

He claims to have learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t from his combined experience in government and as a consultant.

At the root of his approach is his view that most attempts to cut waste out of government are doomed to fail because they focus on exactly the wrong aspect. The cost cutters usually cut the people first because in a service industry, that’s the most visible expense.

The problem is the cutting the people doesn’t fix the gummed up processes of government. An example here are the long waiting lines at a DMV. Cut down the number of staff and the lines just get longer.

Miller contends that citizens are mostly not wanting reductions in the capacity of government to do good. They want the potholes filled, the license plates renewed, the deeds filled etc. What they want is that this is done more efficiently.

His argument is that you need to change the efficiency approach entirely. Don’t bash the government employees as most are hard working and loyal people. Use his approach to fix the processes that don’t work and then the costs will reduce and the citizen customers will be more and more happy with their government.

I find the approach refreshing and in line with what Dr. Deming taught in the early days of process improvement work in the 1940’s. 94% of the problems are not due to people!

After the approach, I would say that the techniques recommended seem to be mainstream process improvement tools.

If you are interested, read more about Ken Miller on his blog

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