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What is Lean?

Lean is a way to solve problems. With Lean thinking, we can address issues like unmet customer demand, or unexpected 'fires' at work. Using Lean can also help us achieve our goals of delivering more value to our customers.

The foundation of Lean is continuous improvement and respect for people. These are mutually reinforcing: we develop continuous improvement by building a culture of respecting the people who do the work as the experts. A Lean organization develops and engages all employees as learners, as thinkers, and as the source of continuous improvement. Respect for people means that we support and empower employees as problem solvers so that they are able to improve the work—for themselves, for their colleagues, and for their communities.

Lean focuses on delivering more value to our customers—the people of King County by eliminating waste in our work processes. With Lean problem solving we plan, measure, and adjust our work to continuously improve and to more effectively deliver services to the people of King County.

Lean also makes our work better and easier by providing innovative ways to fix the complicated processes that frustrate us in our work.

What is King County Achieving with Lean?

Already Lean has helped us maintain the integrity of our elections while reducing costs, provide more health insurance coverage and bolster healthcare delivery, develop better ways of managing our inventory, and improve many other lines of business, saving the people of King County time and money.

To Learn More

King County employees can learn more about Lean

  • by contacting the Continuous Improvement Team and joining our community of practice activities,
  • through Lean training, reading, and other resources,
  • by viewing our Lean Consulting Services Roster and instructions for use, as well as our consultant selection form
  • by sharing with colleagues who have started their Lean journey (read their stories in our blog and newsletter),
  • and by improving things every day
  • Others can

  • follow our journey on the our blog
  • check our impacts,
  • send us feedback, suggestions for improvement, or stories of Lean elsewhere in the world.
  • Lean also emphasizes going to the place where the work actually happens to get the facts about how things are working and find solutions to problems. Who knows best what the problems are and how to fix them? The people who do the actual work! The Lean journey starts with the real work.