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Rockingham County Goes Lean

Transparency and accountability are hot-button issues in today’s world, but one NC county has a leg up; Rockingham County was one of the first local governments to take advantage of NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions’ expertise in process improvement.

County administrators knew that to properly serve Rockingham County’s 93,000 residents, a heightened level of accountability was necessary. They were interested in linking outcomes to revenues and individual performance, using best practices to guide them.

Director of Administration Adam Lindsay reached out to IES, and set up a meeting with Ken Hoover, the Regional Manager for the Piedmont Triad area. “Local governments are feeling the heat more than ever,” Hoover confirmed, “but IES provides a means for them to improve their business practices so they can serve their communities in the most efficient way possible.”

That resonated with Lindsay.

Rockingham County is rural, with only two metro areas: Reidsville and Eden. The county government center is relied upon by many, for everything from building permits to public health services; the more efficiently the center ran, the better the service and value would be for county residents. Lindsay brought IES into the public health department’s family planning clinic to help make some changes for the better, using Lean methodology.

Lean is based on the principles of the Toyota Production System, and helps organizations build customer-focused systems that deliver products and services of the highest quality, for the lowest cost.

The transition to Lean wasn’t a cakewalk. Local governments, oftentimes, are bureaucracies
steeped in tradition. This has both benefits and drawbacks, according to Lindsay. Small local governments have a time-tested way of conducting business, but that can also make
it difficult for them to affect change, even when the changes are necessary. Building a new culture from the ground up, one that embraces change, is what Lindsay says he appreciated most about the work facilitated by IES.

“What I love about Lean is that it provides us with a hands-on mechanism to make changes,” says Lindsay. “I like to think we’re pioneers.”

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