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Lean Implementation at White Sands Missile Range: A Case Study of Lean Thinking Applied in a Government Organization

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Joint applied project

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In this Joint Applied Project, we study application of lean thinking at White Sands Missile Range, an Army Major Range and Test Facility Base MRTFB, tasked with developmental Test and Evaluation TE as its primary mission. We interviewed a representative segment of leaders, managers, and working level lean implementers, and surveyed 285 participants in lean events at White Sands. We employed a comprehensive, uniform set of questions in those interviews and surveys to gain insight into significant expectations, questions, issues, concerns, difficulties, constraints, and uniquely governmental situations and circumstance related to this implementation. We organized and analyzed a massive and sinificant resulting data set around emerging themes including linkage between lean and personnel cuts, management support of lean small incremental benefit versus large bottom-line impact, process documentation, metrics and measurement, vision, urgency, and goals, uniquely governmental issues, and the lean process itself. We offer relevant conclusions and recommendations, based on those themes, which may significantly aid similar government organization who are currently, or expectantly, engaged in lean implementations or other process improvement efforts. We offer those conclusions and recommendations as academic and neutral examinations of real issues associated with an actual lean implementation. Notwithstanding the difficulties and complexities that we have examined in this study, we find an overwhelming majority of our participants believe there was broad incremental benefit from lean, that its cost was warranted and necessary, and that it absolutely should continue to be used as a tool to achieve greater efficiency, quality, and effectiveness in government business processes.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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