Governor Vilsack Plans to Create Lean Manufacturing Institute in Iowa

Governor Tom Vilsack has been at the forefront of his commitment to Lean government in Iowa. One example is the use of kaizen for the Air Quality Permit processingat the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Another example of Lean government is through a program called Purchasing Results the state government uses something called Impact Narratives, which should a lot like making a business case, for spending tax payer money. This is a refreshing and encouraging difference in how elected officials treat taxpayer money.
Last year Iowa commissioned a team of consultants to make recommendations, including something called the Advanced Manufacturing road map. In his Condition of the State speech last week Governor Vilsack proposed to Create a large-scale statewide Lean Manufacturing Institute and he is funding it with $250,000 to start it up, according to this article.
I don’t know if creating a Lean Manufacturing Institute at the state level is the right answer. Similar things have certainly been tried, with mixed results. In the end economic development is about a whole lot more than making operations Lean, and if our elected leaders fail to see the big picture and address systemic root causes of economic problems no amount of institutes will save us. But it’s encouraging that Governor Vilsack seems to have a better grip than most people in his position.
What we can do is to educate our mayors, governors or congressman or ministers on the importance of kaizen and Lean operations for the future of the local and national economy. If they won’t listen or learn you can kaizen the situation by waiting a couple of years and elect someone who will. That’s the beauty of our system of government – we can directly elect many of our local government representatives.