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Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Tale of Two "Lean" Cities

In August 2009, I had the distinct honor of facilitating a Rapid Improvement Event with the Alaska Air National Guard, 176 WG. Being a guardsman for the past 20 years, I have come to look forward to these short, but very beneficial trips to new places. The Air Force started its Continuous Process Improvement initiative a fews ago, marketed under the acronym "AFSO21" (Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century). This trip provided an opportunity for me to use my facilitation skills for the betterment of my country. But, this trip was ever more special to me.

Deputy Chief Steve Smith, Anchorage Alaska Police Department, had previously reached out to my full time employer, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, to inquire about implementing "Lean." Recognizing the once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce another law enforcement agency to "Lean" while serving my country at the same time, I quickly invited Deputy Chief Smith to observe our event at the Alaska Air National Guard. I am happy to say that he accepted the invitation.

Since that time great things have happened. Deputy Chief Smith reached out to the Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Inc (AMEP), and has started a local Lean Consortium, very similar to the Jacksonville Lean Consortium, which the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is a member.

To read the story in the Jacksonville Lean Consortium's newletter, click here.


  1. I want to give additional credit to former Anchorage Police Chief Rob Heun for assigning investigation of law enforcement lean to Deputy Chief Smith. During the summer of 2009, I served on the Alaska Native Justice Center Board with Chief Heun. I had previously tried to interest the Municipality of Anchorage in Lean through a previous Mayor, through a Deputy Fire Chief, and an Anchorage Assemblyman with no success. My efforts started in 2005 after my company waited about 5 months for an inspection of our new fire alarm system. I discussed Lean with Chief Heun and sent him information about a Los Angeles Police Department lean event at their booking facility, and a podcast done by Lt. Randy Russell. Chief Heun assigned the research to Deputy Chief Smith, who is a very qualified and curious man, willing to question the way things are done. Chief Smith had something I didn't, credibility with the City Manager, and as a result, a session to introduce lean to Anchorage managers has been scheduled for March 17th. As a lean evangelist in Alaska, I have been asked to speak to the Municipal Managers on what lean can do for a company such as the one I run, Chugachmiut, Inc. Chief Heun has resigned at the request of our new Mayor, and I miss his leadership. However, with Deputy Chief Smith, we have an able lean champion in our Municipal Government and I hope for good things to happen.

  2. A great news story. Serendipity is great, even greater when you recognize it and act upon it! Way to go to all.