June 20, 2008 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon - the two most beautiful words in the English language."
~Henry James
Last week I said I wanted to talk more about our efforts to transform DHS into a world-class health and human services agency, and I'm going to pick up that thread today.
Bryan Johnston memorial service
Mike Lehman, reflecting on Bryan's life at the memorial mass today.

One of the things I hear from DHS employees is that they have heard a lot of talk that the agency has launched the "Transformation Initiative," but they don't fully understand what it is. They want more information and they want to know exactly how it's all going to work and when it's going to start.

In other words, people are looking for nuts and bolts details.

So let me give you an update of where we are in the process to become a world-class organization. There have been a lot of buzzwords flying around about what the Transformation Initiative is, so I promise I will fight the temptation to descend into management speak and just give you the facts.

Bryan Johnston memorial service
Hundreds attended the memorial mass at Queen of Peace Church.

Over the past six months we have interviewed staff, job-shadowed people and gathered data. We asked you what bureaucratic barriers keep you from helping your clients. We compared ourselves to other agencies and organizations across the country to see who might be doing the same thing -- whether it's processing benefit applications or executing a contract -- better or faster so we know what's possible and realistic. We mapped and examined a lot of the work each of you does every day.

We know more about how things get done in DHS than we ever have before. Now the real work starts.

To get a sense of what's coming, let's look at last year's Finance pilot project. Not only was it inspirational, it shows what the rest of us can expect in our divisions and program areas. Teams of frontline workers and managers came together, isolated their work processes, mapped each step and discussed whether it was necessary or helpful. They didn't try to change everything all at once -- they broke it down and tackled it one process at a time. They were assisted by "Lean Leaders." Those are the people from their own area who have been trained in facilitating these efforts and setting up the plans for improvement.

Bryan Johnston memorial service
Drew Johnston, at right, remembers his father during the memorial mass.

Since then, the Finance staff find that their work goes more smoothly and they feel better about their jobs. Sick leave and overtime have been reduced. There is less employee turnover. Things are working better, and because they are working better and more efficiently, we are on track to reap savings of more than $5 million that can be reinvested into the agency and our mission.

Today we are putting the pieces together to recreate those successes across the agency. We have identified dozens of initiatives. These are distinct projects within each division that focus on becoming more effective and efficient, positively impacting front line staff, and improving our engagement with our partners and our clients. During the next few weeks we will be finalizing how we will phase in and stage this work.

We have started the process of selecting the Lean Leaders. These individuals will be trained and then will be responsible for leading these projects. Work will get started on these projects during the upcoming months in each division. More specific information is coming soon.

We are moving forward, every day, toward our goal of turning Oregon's DHS into a world-class agency and one that we can all be proud to call our own.

So, with the year's longest day and shortest night upon us, soak up the light and enjoy weekend.

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DHS on the web