The mission of LeanOhio is to help government agencies make processes simpler, faster, better and less costly.

The mission of LeanOhio is to help government agencies make processes simpler, faster, better and less costly. North Canton City Schools Superintendent Michael Hartenstein believes the administration at the district can make LeanOhio and Six Sigma theories standard practice.

He worked with Amy Lane, an associate vice president at Kent State University, to apply for a grant from the Ohio Development Services and the Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF). The district received a grant for a one-week LeanOhio Boot Camp.

“The district received a grant that allowed us to send 10 people to a Lean Boot Camp,” Hartenstein said. “I wanted to get our people into the training so they could see what Lean systems look like. We all got the Camo belt certification (boot camp belt). We had eight people complete the training in June and two more in September.”

The Lean boot camp training was five consecutive days, 35 hours total.  The trainees spent the week learning and working together on special projects including Kaizen events. According to isixsigma.com, “Kaizen Events are commonly referred to as a tool that: 1) Gathers operators, managers and owners of a process in one place, 2) Maps the existing process (using a deployment flowchart, in most cases), 3) Improves on the existing process and 4) Solicits buy-in from all parties related to the process.”

Hartenstein has applied for a second grant to work with a Kent State representative to help the district address two specific areas he wants to improve, human resources and communications. Kent State uses Lean Six Sigma Black Belts and Master Black Belts to help with the Kaizen Events.

“I'd like to work on improving all of the processes in human resources such as posting positions, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, acclimating new employees to the environment, maintaining employees and all the paperwork processes. I'd like to also improve the internal and external communications process including forms management, document sharing, email and phone uses and the website and intranet uses,” Hartenstein said.

He hopes to complete the human resources Kaizen event before March. Hartenstein said his goal is to do more with less by eliminating the waste in time and materials, which will increase the savings.

Jamie Smart, director of communications and special projects for the district, said going through the training has made all of the participants - including herself - look at their own processes.

“It's about fostering a culture of continual improvement and how to introduce change,” Smart said. “Looking for ways to improve should be a constant. It also showed us that great ideas can come from anywhere. We can implement Lean in smaller, personal practices. For example, we can improve our personal filing practices to help find documents faster and easier.”

Hartenstein said he'll apply for addition grants to get all of the administrators through the Lean boot camp next spring. He said the main goal of the training is to find better ways to be responsible to the taxpayers.

“Our district is in the same funding boat as other districts. We rely on state funding and we need to learn to do more with less and Lean training is one way to learn how to do that better,” Hartenstein said.