Despite huge spending, Lean program results not tracked

The Sask. Party government has spent a massive amount of money and staff time on the controversial John Black Lean program, but according to a new audit, it isn’t even tracking the results.

The NDP says it looks like the Sask. Party is blindly committed to the controversial Lean program.

“The Sask. Party drank the John Black Lean Kool-Aid, and now there isn’t a Lean program cheque it won’t sign – despite the fact that, apparently, they don’t know what they’re getting for the money,” said Warren McCall, the NDP critic for the Lean initiative.

The report, released Monday by Saskatchewan’s independent Provincial Auditor, concludes that the Sask. Party is now using Lean in 19 ministries and agencies, four post-secondary schools and 28 school divisions.

However, “they did not identify or gather sufficient information to enable them to assess the overall success of the use of Lean.”

The auditor points to hundreds of Lean events, continued use of Lean consultants and 5,000 days of staff time spent on Lean, but no overall results recorded.

“Poor coordination could results in a lack of clarity on intended results, uneven implementation, not realizing efficiencies, services not improving, and inefficient use of public resources,” according to the auditor’s report.

“I think this audit confirms something health care workers, patients, families and taxpayers have been really been concerned about with the Sask. Party’s hard conversion to the Lean mantra,” said McCall. “Massive piles of resources have been allocated to Lean, and it’s not buying results – it’s just buying more Lean.”

The total Lean investment since 2010 includes more than $40 million for American consultant John Black and Associates; about $20 million every year for ongoing Lean Kaizen Promotion Offices; millions per year for staff exclusively devoted to Lean and millions more for Lean programming, events and training. There is also a minister and staff devoted to the province-wide implementation of John Black Lean.

The audit’s scope included only the coordination of Lean, not evaluating whether the Lean initiative is appropriate or offers value.