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Sustainability: Moving from Common Sense to Common Practice
2016 International Conference
Leesburg, VA - National Conference Center

September 18th - 21st

The TOC Transformation of Texas Workforce Commission:
Cultural Change and Breakthrough Results.

Alfred Mycue - Director of Business Transformation and Rapid Process Improvement at Texas Workforce Commission

The Texas Workforce Commission was charged by the Texas State Legislature to pilot an operational improvement process based on the principles of Lean, Six Sigma or TOC within the agency. The Legislature received testimony from Kristen Cox from the State of Utah that applying Lean or Six Sigma without using TOC would be a waste of time, helping to prompt the agency to include a TOC component in their pilot. The major objectives of the program were to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the agency’s operations. This was particularly important given that special federal subsidies were soon expiring and the agency would be required to operate at a much higher level of efficiency to meet the 
needs of taxpayers. 

The agency planned to use the pilot to develop and test a specific improvement model to meet its needs and if proven effective to roll out the process across agency-wide. The larger roll-out would establish a culture of continuous improvement, produce savings that could be used to support additional programs, and improve the timeliness and effectiveness of services they deliver. 

The transformation began with a pilot project to be conducted in the agency’s Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) department, which was suffering under a large backlog of work and was unable to process applications in a timely fashion. Viable Vision and NOVACES supported the initial pilot which was quickly expanded to two other areas. Training in TOC and Lean led to the development of Throughput Operating Strategies (TOS) for the pilot processes facilitating a focused process to identify and improve the bottlenecks, break policy constraints and overcome various obstacles in the workflow. 

During this time the organization hired Alfredo Mycue as Director of Business Transformation in an executive staff position to lead and oversee the complete transformation of the agency. A cadre of experts was trained more deeply in the principles of Lean, TOC and the TOS process and received extensive coaching from the consultants and Mr. Mycue. Through focused workshops led by Messrs Mycue and Fox, each of the agency’s many departments created their own TOS as a model for applying TOC’s Five Focusing Steps, and used their TOS to identify the areas where focused improvements would have the greatest impact on performance. An Agency TOS, guiding the pursuit of the Agency’s overall mission, was developed with the Executive Director and his staff. The TOS’s were and continue to be used to focus improvement efforts, leading to dramatic improvements in performance and a sea-change in the culture of the organization and their approach to management. 

Improvements include: 
  • WOTC operation cut its backlog from 197 days to 32 days while reducing overtime 
  • Workforce department’s RFP process was cut from 230 to 135 days 
  • Civil Rights Division’s cycle time was cut from 142 days to 92 days 
  • IT procurement times have been cut by more than 50%
(the majority of the implementation was done in 2013 so results continue to grow) 

Along the way a number of challenges were encountered and overcome. Each of the departments faced the common challenge of overcoming people’s natural resistance to change, hardened by years of less than successful improvement programs. The focusing methods of TOC which ensured that efforts targeted the real constraints in each system produced rapid and substantial results; shifting mindsets from skeptical to energized.

Another challenge common in government is that everything is seen as important. In an environment with many stakeholders (including, the Governor, Legislature, numerous federal authorities, special interest groups, and individual citizens) there is a strong culture to treat every request, inquiry, and report with equal urgency. 
TOC helped:
  • Clarify the underlying mission of the agency, giving people a way to more effectively weigh the importance of issues
  • People to see that underneath all this "noise” there were really very few root causes to address. 
  • people to realize how multi-tasking was greatly reducing their ability to resolve issues. 
A third major challenge was producing results within the environment of big government where improvements like spending less or increasing efficiency can be seen as signs of poor management or produce penalties like reduced funding the next year. Understanding not only how TOC can produce improvements, but also understanding how these improvements are going to impact existing metrics and perceptions has been critical to TWC in charting its improvement path in this environment. In particular the activity of defining clear goals and supporting metrics has been vital. Unlike the for-profit sector where the goal of a business is simple and obvious, government agencies have much less clarity around what they are trying to accomplish through each of their programs and departments. Defining the goals of and appropriate measures for each business unit demanded has been a challenging but highly rewarding activity. 

3 Questions
  1. How do you deal with government budgeting processes that don’t reward "saving money”?
  2. How would you recommend introducing TOC to other governments, especially in a world where Lean is far more established?
  3. How are you ensuring that the results and the culture for improvement are sustained and expanded upon in the future?

Alfredo Mycueis the Director of Business Transformation and Rapid Process Improvement at Texas Workforce Commission. He is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Airborne Ranger. He served in Germany, Egypt, Korea, Iraq, and in 8 States. During his tour of duty he served in a variety of positions including, Stryker Infantry Battalion Commander in Baghdad, Iraq, US Embassy’s Advisor to Korean Army, and Assistant Professor at United States Military Academy at West Point where he educated Cadets in history, ethics, and the military profession. 

Alfredo is a graduate of West Point, the Command and General Staff College, and holds a Masters in Diplomatic History from Tulane University. He has the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential, is certified as a Theory of Constraint’s Jonah, and is a Certified Six Sigma Black-Belt (CSSBB) in efficiency and quality. 

Alfredo recently worked at the Department of Housing from 2009 to 2012 where he was the Manager of Community Affairs. He helped administer over $400M in grant funds across 8 major Federal and State programs. He also developed and implemented a strategy for continuous improvement for 5 major programs at TDHCA. For example, as a direct result of these team improvement efforts, HUD-backed loans dropped from an average of 138 days to 59 days. This has included providing project management and lean six sigma expertise to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act stakeholders, empowering them to achieve quality weatherization while meeting their production goals set by Department of Energy. 

As the Director of Business Transformation, Alfredo leads and coordinates government improvement efforts at Texas Workforce Commission. He has trained 65 practitioners in the theory of constraints, lean tools, and six sigma methodologies. Those practitioners, under the mentorship of Alfredo, lead rapid process improvement projects to attain government services production goals, while improving quality and customer experience. Results, such as reducing application processing time from 194 days to 31 days, repeatedly demonstrate the power these improvement techniques can have on government systems and processes. Alfredo is proud to be a process improvement practitioner in Texas and at the forefront of TWC’s government improvement efforts.

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