Public Housing Process Improvement: Picking Your First Project

If you are starting out with lean, one of the first questions becomes, “When should I start trying projects?” That is not always an easy answer as you do need to at least have a basic understanding.  But when should you start using your new skill sets?  What should you tackle?

If you over-reach and try a monster home-run type project, you might fail and lose momentum.  If you choose the wrong project or do not get the right results, that could also hurt your lean journey.

Picking Projects for Lean Improvement

Here are some tips for picking a lean process improvement project:

  • The team that is available can make changes necessary without major costs or I.T. investment
  • The project would help an end to end process.
  • Processes that are complex and need to be simplified.
  • Processes that customers are complaining about.
  • High cost processes that consume too many resources.
  • Processes business units where they are a lot of issues.
  • Processes that are not well defined or where there is a lot of variation.

Stay Away From These:

You might not want to start with these types of projects:

  • You might need help of I.T. or another group that cannot help anytime soon.
  • Projects where the business group is undergoing change.
  • Processes that might be changing soon anyway.
  • Will not change objectives of business.
  • Targets only a part of a process and is not end to end.
  • Team and sponsors are not behind it.
  • Sponsor is not interested at all in outcomes and tracking.
  • If there is no guarantee team members necessary will be allowed to dedicate time.
  • Solution is already in hand.
  • Has a problem that is too big


The most important thing here is that you establish some criteria for picking a problem.  Go through some processes to ensure you know why you are doing something and that the team has a likelihood of finishing it.


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