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Program aims to make county more efficient

Management-level employees take part in Lean Ohio Boot Camp to learn to save money

Tribune Chronicle / Renee Fox John Novak of the Kent State University Center for Corporate and Professional Development, is teaching a weeklong workshop for management-level Trumbull County employees. The program, Lean Ohio Boot Camp, is designed to help managers identify flaws in work processes that cost time and money.

WARREN — Management-level Trumbull County employees and a few elected officials are taking part in a workshop this week designed to teach them to identify waste in the processes they direct.

“It is designed to teach us to look at our processes. With some practice, and if people really embrace it, I think it will help make things run more smoothly and efficiently,” said Richard Jackson, director of the county human resources department.

County commissioners paid about $18,000 for 13 employees to go through the Lean Ohio Boot Camp program for public-sector employees, offered through the Kent State University’s Center for Corporate and Professional Development.

The course was recommended by the Trumbull County Citizen Budget Review Committee as one of 19 things the county could do to help its finances.

Instructor John Novak said the workshop, which has been given 28 times for public sector employees, is “eye opening” for many people.

“We look at how to deliver on customer expectations, what we can do to improve the process, to meet our customer’s expectations. In the private sector it is about profits, but here, with public employees, it’s about saving expenses and improving on interactions with the residents who need the county’s services,” Novak said.

The group is working on a simulation of a process a public office is likely to have to complete — like completing a grant application. They map out, with color-coded sticky notes, each step of the process and identify where there are snags, or steps in the process that aren’t required, but still cost money without adding value, Novak said.

“We look at the current state of a process, examine what the barriers are that are keeping the process from moving forward, figure out the problem, then create a map that shows what the process should be,” Novak said.

Taking a closer look at the way things are done, instead of doing them the same way they have always been done, is important during a time when local governments are strapped for money, Novak said.

“Lean Ohio takes everyday situations and processes and teaches us how to look at them from a different perspective. The end goals are streamlined services and eliminating duplication and redundancies,” said Trumbull County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa. “The program isn’t focused on any single governmental challenge but aims to provide techniques and theory to change how we think about solving each challenge.”

“Counties need to be able to provide even more services than ever to the public, but they have fewer resources to work with,” Novak said.

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