As the summer heats up, Ohio officials are heading to boot camp to shape up and earn white, yellow, green and black belts.
Despite the martial arts belt system, government workers are not there to learn kicking techniques. Rather, they’re being educated on how to maximize efficiency through streamlining processes, strategic planning and data analysis from LeanOhio, a statewide network providing a series of programs and certification to help state employees improve government services.
Government and municipal workers can attend a five-day intensive training, the LeanOhio Bootcamp, or attend one of the several sessions in the LeanOhio Training Academy — which allows participants to achieve credibility measured through the martial-arts system of white to yellow to green to black belts. The academy also offers participants a chance to prove their management chops by implementing an action plan after they return to work. If they’re successful, workers receive a camouflage belt.
During the 40-hour boot camp, participants identify redundant processes and discuss ways to eliminate wasteful steps as well as how to incorporate the Six Sigma process improvement system, with the goal of making government “simpler, faster, better, and less costly,” according to the website.
Courses are offered each week this month and into August throughout the state including in areas such as Cincinnati, Elyria, Bay Village and Columbus. College towns like Athens and Kent will also offer training sessions. Scholarships to attend are also available through the Local Government Efficiency Program.

“We really feel excited that the results we got in state government were such that now there’s an opportunity for cities, counties and local governments to get access to this to get those same kinds of results,” said Steve Wall, director of continuous improvement for the state of Ohio.

LeanOhio contends that for every $1 invested into the program’s activities in 2013, the state gained more than $40 in projected savings, Government Executive reports.

For Sherri Scheetz, chief administrative officer for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, boot camp was a chance to learn how to be as effective as possible as budget cuts loom. 

“We are really feeling the crunch as our federal resources dwindle, our properties age and we still maintain high performance,” she said. “This is the way we will be able to build capacity even in the face of all these cuts and continue to provide the best of service. And that’s our purpose in being, to serve the public.”
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