Lean Roanoke

The City of Roanoke, Virginia recognizes the importance of change and how embracing change improves business processes. Citizens expectations are rising and municipalities are being forced to do more with less. The City of Roanoke has forward thinking leaders that have aspired to make the organization more efficient using Lean methodology.

Lean training has helped city employees improve processes using technology and other improvements to achieve a more efficient work environment benefiting it's customers.


Lean is an overall business methodology that strives to deliver the most value to the customer in the most effective way.

Lean Project Goals

  • Eliminate waste
  • Improve quality
  • Improve services
  • Minimize cost
  • Reduce time
  • Remove activities that don't add value and continual improvement
Partnership with Virginia Tech
During the summer of 2012, the City of Roanoke entered into a 2 pronged partnership with Virginia Tech involving the school’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) in Blacksburg, Virginia and its Center for Higher Learning in Roanoke, Virginia.
  1. VT I.S.E. Student Projects
  2. Lean Management
  3. Lean Six Sigma
Annually, the ISE (Industrial and Systems Engineering) Department solicits Lean capstone projects for its students to complete as a graduation requirement. In September 2012, city projects were submitted, and ISE selected 4 projects in the following areas: Police Department, Social Services, Building Inspections, and Planning. In August 2013, two additional projects from the City’s Transportation Division and the Greater Roanoke Transit Company were chosen and evaluated by a new class of students.  And in August 2014, four additional projects were selected – three from the Police Department and one from the Facilities group at our City Schools.

These ten projects provided the students an opportunity to apply classroom training to real world situations while providing a significant benefit to the city departments and ultimately, to citizens and businesses. At the end of each school year, city staff met with the Virginia Tech faculty coordinator to critique the process and make tweaks for the upcoming year.  We anticipate continuing this partnership in 2015 and subsequent years.
Star City InnovatorsClarification of Lean is Important.
The Star City Innovators does not look at continuous improvement as a means to eliminate positions.  We embrace the process improvement tools that we have learned to transform our organization by removing red tape and unnecessary steps that can make our jobs frustrating so that we can work more effectively.  This helps improve our work environment, provides opportunities for staff to focus on priorities and their own development, and ultimately provide better service to our community. 

Our Role:
We are a volunteer, grass roots group that is committed to providing a high level of service to each other and our community, in the simplest manner possible.  We want to encourage others to embrace continuous improvement and help the organization meet its goal of the city providing best-in-class service. 
To do this we will:
  • Reinforce a culture of staff empowerment - we will provide introductory training on continuous improvement to new employees to promote critical analysis of our business processes, efficient use of staff and resources, allowing staff to focus on priorities.
  • Assist you with your own efforts - we are available to help you work through process issues, problems or challenges to help improve your work environment and reduce unnecessary steps and unnecessary effort.  We will conduct workshops to help staff develop Lean solutions to challenges in their workplace.
  • Support ongoing Lean and Lean Six Sigma Training - we will be available to act as mentors and offer support to staff participating in the formal Lean and/or Lean Six Sigma programs.
Our Belief:
If we all make small incremental changes to improve our practices, we will have a big impact on our overall work environment, our ability to provide services to our community, and alter common misconceptions of how government performs. 

For more information about Lean Roanoke, contact Angie O'Brien at: [email protected]