Rotorua District Council (RDC) has picked up one of four national awards in the 2012 Local Government Excellence Awards announced this morning in Auckland at the annual conference for the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM).
The council collected the top award in the ‘Building Organisational Capability’ category for its customer focussed business improvement programme ‘Lean Thinking,’ implemented at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre.
SOLGM’s deputy chief executive Don Mackay said the judges saw the Rotorua District Council project as a step along a path.
"It has the potential to be genuinely transformational in terms of the capacity for the council to deliver services effectively for its community."
RDC chief executive Peter Guerin said his Aquatic Centre team had been one of the council’s earliest adopters of the Lean Thinking concept and was already enjoying tangible results by way of improved efficiencies, higher quality services, speedier processes and cost savings.
"Lean Thinking principles are being progressively rolled out across our entire council's business activities but our aquatic centre, under the leadership of Louis Sylvester, has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the programme with every one of his staff actively involved in making it work.
He said Mr Sylvester had successfully integrated Lean Thinking into day-to-day operations of the aquatic centre which had become a model for other council entities to follow. He pointed out that Mr Sylvester was also a finalist in the Rotorua Westpac Business Awards featuring in the Waikato University sponsored ‘Emerging Young Business person of the Year’ category.
"Our Lean Thinking concept is based on a highly acclaimed international business efficiency programme first developed in the Japanese automobile industry. It's subsequently been successfully adapted and implemented by companies and public sector businesses around the world. Rotorua District Council is the first local authority in New Zealand to apply Lean Thinking to the way it does business.
"Lean Thinking involves five key steps for reviewing business processes. Firstly we define the value from the customer's perspective, then we map the value stream to identify and remove potential waste in a process, and then we create 'flow' by eliminating functional barriers. Next we establish what is referred to as 'pull,' letting customers determine when services are needed, and finally we aim to achieve perfection by doing everything we can to reduce effort, time, space, cost and errors.
"We have actually made a commitment to achieve operational savings of $10 million over the duration of our current ten year Long-term Plan from implementing Lean Thinking across our council organisation," said Mr Guerin.
"In the long run it’s the residents of Rotorua who will benefit from our implementation of Lean Thinking in all our business processes. We’re constantly on the lookout to identify new ways to do things better, faster, easier and of course at less cost. Those are the Lean Thinking cornerstones.
"We’re very proud to be acknowledged with a prestigious national award from our local government peers and we’re equally proud of our highly professional aquatic centre team which is leading the play for driving efficiencies within our organisation, and delivering substantially enhanced services to our customers.
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