LEAN: Rapid Process Improvement Webinar

Lean, a process management practice, became popular in the U.S. in the ‘80s, when Toyota attributed its success to its brand new Lean production system. This system produced cars for less cost while achieving high customer satisfaction. Lean has seeped into government too. There are 14 states in the U.S. who employ Lean practices in their state agencies. Lean streamlines the bureaucratic flow of work by removing archaic practices and unnecessary steps; this has saved millions in taxpayer dollars. 

Lean is just beginning to be noticed by nonprofit organizations. As Peter Drucker has written, “there are very few MBA’s in nonprofits.” Yet today, nonprofits compete for funding and this funding can dry up. No one can forget the recession of 2008. Corporate foundations pulled in their belts and church donations and government grants shrank. Executive Directors had no choice but to cut their budgets and cut programs. Lean provides an alternative.  

This presentation is a brief overview of what Lean is, and is not, and how it has been successfully implemented in government and nonprofit organizations, and some initial steps organizations can take toward LEAN practices. This webinar will address the following:

  • What is LEAN?
  • How does it benefit institutions?
  • What are some examples of it being used successfully?
  • How is it helpful during times of scarce resources?
  • Concrete takeaways on how participants can start and implement LEAN strategies




April 13, 2021
12:00-1:15 p.m


Sheilah "Paddy" O’Brien

Sheilah O’Brien

Author of Lean for Nonprofit, What You Don’t Know Can Cost You and Self-Study Guide for Facilitation of Rapid Process Improvement Workshops

Sheilah “Paddy” O’Brien, MPA, LSSGB, OPMA and has had a career at all levels of government and numerous non-profit organizations. Her last 17 plus years have been focused on working with organizations to improve the way they do their work.  Improvements have led to decreased costs, and enhanced positive reputations. Her work has covered a range of organizations in the corporate, educational, governmental and non-profit sectors.  She has conducted over 30 improvement workshops and developed over 15 classroom trainings.

She started her work with nonprofits early in her career.  As a VISTA volunteer (now part of Americorps)  in inner city Cleveland, Ohio, she provided public relations and communications skills to a non-profit housing organization.  Her recent work was with the health and human services agency of the state of Oregon.  Some results of her work: reducing delay in processing food stamps and redesigned work for same day service; reducing backlog in processing health plan cards, and speeding up the processing of small purchases from 19 days to a few hours.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards such as the ACTION Employee Special Achievement Award, the Housing and Urban Development Fellowship for Graduate Education, and recognition in the Congressional Record for outstanding VISTA work.   She has been an invited speaker to the Southern Leadership Conference on Children and Families, the Oregon State Fiscal Association, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Oregon Association of Personnel Directors, and the 60 member staff of the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office of Auditing.

Uniquely, she enhances Lean improvement work with her knowledge and skills gained from auditing, program evaluation, project management, and facilitation. She is the author of Lean for the Nonprofit, What you don’t know can cost you and most recently, Facilitating Rapid Process Improvement Workshops, a Self-Study Guide for the Lean Leader.

Paddy is a Lake Oswego High graduate, has an BA from Pitzer College, and MPA from Cornell University.

Take home handout

If you enjoyed our webinar and would like to practice and apply your learnings, check out this handout