The speaker was Mr. Tommy Gonzalez. He was the City Manager of Irving, Texas when they won a National Baldrige Quality Award for excellence. They adopted Baldrige as the structure for their performance improvement initiative and lean as the tool. During his presentation he showed a video clip of a Council meeting. A road construction worker, a member of the Public Works Department, addressing the City Council. He is one of the front line staff that makes a city work. He repairs roads. It is as basic as you can get. For three days he came inside and participated in a lean kaizen event. The objective was faster road construction and repair. The project resulted in some simple redesign of the trucks that repair crews use. A system of drawers were designed to hold tools. Drawers were labeled as to which tools they held. A plate was placed on the back of the truck to make it safer for crews to get inside. Ladders were taken off the top of the truck where they were stacked on top of each other, (where the inevitable usually happened, the one they need was the one on the bottom) and placed on holding racks on the sides of the trailers. And a special mount was built for heavy clamps that could easily slide into and out of the truck with one hand. Simple changes but startling results. The cost and time for road repair dropped in half. As he spoke to the Council he got emotional at the sense of empowerment the City had provided him and his team to improve the quality and value of their work.
The City of Irving is a testimony to the fact that a large urban City can be just as efficient as one of its commercial cousins.