One Day License Tabs Turnaround – Sustaining Continuous Improvement

The very first Lean event in King County took place in April 2011, when employees in Records & Licensing Services reduced the license tab renewal time from 3 weeks to four days!

Now, nearly four years later, this email arrived to a county inbox:

“I got my car tab renewal notice on Saturday (the 12th) and went on line to pay for my new tabs and selected King County. The tabs came today (Tuesday the 16th) so they turned them around in one day.”


It’s Not a Destination, It’s a Voyage

A year after that first Lean event, RALS employees explained how they improved the license tabs process and what they learned to King County Executive Dow Constantine and Misaaki Imai, “the father of continuous improvement.”

Initial improvements are often the easy part.

But there’s a reason that New Year’s resolutions are usually forgotten by February.

Sustaining and building on improvement is much harder. We backslide. We don’t stabilize and sustain the new way of doing things.

Or maybe we don’t have a new process at all: “Clean desk, let it get messy, clean again, repeat” is not a process to maintain an orderly desk.

In their true continuous improvement, the licensing renewal team has taken to heart something RALS’s Bill Stream says in the video:

“It is in fact not a destination. It’s a voyage. It never stops. You never get to where you are going to go. You’re always going. You’re always moving. If you get to a point where you think you’ve reached the end of the process then you haven’t done it right because there is always a place where you can look at something, make it better…”

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