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News Item

Chinook Embraces the Lean Philosophy

June 04, 2014

​The Government of Saskatchewan is working toward establishing a culture of Lean in the workplace in order to continuously improve its service delivery to stakeholders. Ministries, including Education, were encouraged to introduce new Lean events in the year ahead as well as participate in ongoing training and sharing of information. School Divisions around the province are embracing the Lean way of thinking to streamline their work, and Chinook School Division is no exception. In support of the initiative, they held their first Lean event in April at the Chinook Education Centre (CEC) in Swift Current.

Lean is a business technique that identifies and eliminates unnecessary waste to provide better value for clients and customers. The Lean approach works because it invites collaboration between employees responsible for carrying out the work, customers, and other stakeholders along the way. All of these groups provide input to ensure a smooth process to deliver goods or services in an effective manner. Lean is not about job cuts or reducing staff, it's about improving the way we do our work and providing better services. The resulting savings in time and money identified through Lean are reinvested back into the system, which creates even more value from a taxpayer perspective.

The Ministry of Education jointly sponsored the event with Chinook School Division by providing a facilitator to conduct a Value Stream Mapping (VSM) process and guide the team. Prior to this, employees attended Lean Training sessions offered by the Ministry, and three Lean Leaders were chosen to participate in training and certification in order to run future events and support the Lean philosophy throughout Chinook.

An employee survey highlighted a number of issues, and the team recommended three main areas to focus on at CEC: 1) developing a standardized process for filing; 2) processes and protocols for ordering and receiving; and 3) parking and traffic flow. "We expect a number of positive results from the changes that are already being implemented, for example more efficient use of space in CEC," said Board Chair Randy Beler, "That goal includes decreasing file duplication by 36% and reducing common file storage space from 1,000 square feet down to zero. A major benefit will be improved employee satisfaction and communication, which results in improved services."

The team is implementing a continuous improvement plan, and other issues will be addressed on an ongoing basis through sub-committees or "Kaizen" events. This will include a Green initiative, as well as simplifying tasks, making work processes more efficient and constantly improving quality. 

Director Liam Choo-Foo is looking forward to improving services and time management and expects the Lean Leaders to continue this philosophy over the next few years, now that a successful event has been piloted. "This is about finding ways for us to be able to do the job we are supposed to by eliminating all the extraneous and wasteful activities," Liam explains, "Being Lean causes us to try to find ways to do things more efficiently and look for solutions so that we can continuously improve and create value for Chinook staff, students and families."

For more information, contact:

Joanne Booth, Communications Coordinator
Chinook School Division
Phone: 306-778-9200  Ext 218

© Chinook School Division 2014

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