Accepted paper:

Managing preschool the Lean way: turning work process improvements into numbers

Authors:

Renita Thedvall (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines how staff in the public welfare sector in a municipality in Sweden are working with the management model Lean in their daily work practices with a specific focus on the handling and struggling with setting measurable targets for the areas identified in need of improvements.

Paper long abstract:

The management model Lean has in recent years spread like wildfire in the Swedish public welfare sector. As other management models that may be categorised as New Public Management, the model is based on performance management, standardisation of processes and visual management with the aim of efficiency and quality (Rose 1996). One important ingredient in the model is to set targets that are measurable to show results and in this way visualising how the taxpayers' money is used in the form of numbers. The Lean model originates from the automotive industry and arrives with a set of tools such as the Lean Board where targets and improvement areas are made visual. The identified improvements area are dealt with in the so-called improvement groups, which consists of 4-5 staff members that are set to make action plans for improvement with the help of Lean tools such as "value flow mappings" and "moments of truth". The paper examines how the staff in the public welfare sector, in particular public preschools, in a municipality in Sweden are working with Lean in their daily work practices with specific focus on the handling and struggling with setting measurable targets for the areas identified in need of improvements. The paper shows the eagerness to comply with the ideology of numbers by putting efforts into making improvements in work processes measurable, while at the same time resisting what they understand as hard core statistics by e.g. introducing monitoring tools that include feelings and experiences of the improvements.

panel P025
Governing by numbers: audit culture, rankings and the New World (Re)order