Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Lean Government

Lean in Air Permitting Guide

« Back to Lean in Air Permitting Guide Homepage

Section 1: What Really Happens During an Air Permitting Lean Event?

The Starter Kit describes a variety of Lean event methods including “kaizen” and “value stream mapping.” However, past experience has shown that state agencies often use a hybrid of two or more of these Lean methods for their air permitting events. Your Lean facilitator specializes in one or more Lean method or uses customized hybrid methods for their Lean events. For that reason, it will be important to work with your facilitator to identify the best method to suit your needs.

Lean air permitting events typically consist of 3-5 day event including a variety of team activities: training on Lean methods; mapping the current air permitting process; discussing inefficiencies in the current process; identifying improvements to address the inefficiencies; and mapping or defining a new, improved air permitting process. In addition, successful events require careful scoping and planning in advance, and concerted attention to post-event follow-up. The following table provides two example agendas for five day Lean events, which is the typical length of an agency’s first Lean event.

Example Five Day Lean Event Agendas

Example Five Day Lean Event Agendas

IDEM “Current State” Process Map
IDEM “Current State” Process Map
IDEM “Future State” Process Map
IDEM “Future State” Process Map

Creating maps of the current and improved air permitting processes is a key part of air permitting Lean events. The following photographs illustrate the outcome of the process mapping stages of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) Lean event focusing on the agency’s title V permit modification process.

Mapping is a group process that often necessitates a large room, as even the simplest air permitting processes can be lengthy when broken into individual steps. The draft version of the value stream map is often done on a whiteboard or on butcher paper tacked on a wall during the event, as shown in the photographs above. These large initial maps may not always be the most practical reference tools, so after the air permitting Lean event concludes agencies often develop electronic versions of their process maps. In some cases, however, it can be useful to keep a hand-prepared map up on the wall in a conference room or hallway to remind team members of the new process design and what the team accomplished. The following diagrams show Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (Delaware DNREC) electronic process maps that were developed after their air quality construction permitting Lean event concluded. Please note that the diagrams are not meant to be legible, rather they are mean to be illustrative of the air permitting process before and after a Lean event. More detailed versions of the maps can be found by following the links below.

Delaware DNREC “Current State” Process Map

Delaware DNREC “Current State” Process Map

View larger version of map (PDF, 1 p, 46KB, About PDF)

Delaware DNREC “Future State” Process Map

Delaware DNREC “Future State” Process Map

View larger version of map (PDF, 1 p, 20KB, About PDF)

Lean methods are based on the concept of continuous improvement, and most agencies hold follow-up events to their initial air permitting Lean event to encourage follow through and further improvements. Many agencies hold short follow-up events that occur at regular intervals (e.g., 30 and 60 days) to assess the efficiencies gained through use of the new air permitting process and to identify further enhancements to the process. These events tend to last one day or less. Additionally, some agencies hold longer follow-up events that focus on a specific aspect of the permitting process that was labeled inefficient during the initial event. For example, a 1-3 day follow-up event could focus on updating an air permit application form.

« Back to Introduction | Continue to Section 2 »

Jump to main content.