When researching a recent story on government innovation (here’s a link), I spoke with Stephen Corbett, a McKinsey partner in the consulting firm’s Toronto office who heads their Operations Practice for the Americas. Corbett spoke about recent trends, and also tipped me off to a forthcoming publication called McKinsey on Government, a report on on productivity and operations in the public sector. It will be available later this month.
Corbett previewed some research from the report. I asked him about success stories of government innovation and he mentioned Sweden, which shaved 11% of of its budgets after a major governmental budget crisis in the mid-90s. They did this by re-thinking “overall structuring and management,” Corbett says. He also points to the U.K., which he says saved more than 26 billion British pounds annually after re-evaluating its operational costs in 2004. The Canadian goverment merged over 70 different services, from different agencies. “The streamlining of that flow saved 400 million Canadian dollars annually,” Corbett says.
He says countries are using the concept of lean operations, borrowed from Toyota, and applying it to defense logistics, taxes, immigration, and security clearances. The use of a new process adapted from industry certainly is innovation.
But he cautions that it isn’t easy to translate other nations’ inventive processes to the U.S. or even across European or North American boundaries. Still, there could be some lessons learned.
For more, keep your eye out for McKinsey on Government.