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Lean Staffing I

(October 30, 2006) In virtually every corporation, there are strategic requisitions and tactical requisitions. There are the often repeated assignments and the jobs that are relatively unique to the organization. There are bulk occupations and there are core competencies.

In most operations, the two piles are treated the same way in recruiting. The ATS is the same. The sourcing methods are the same. The compensation policies are the same. Everything is the same.

The funny thing is that one involves art and persuasion while the other is a commodity process. One is a critical strategic maneuver and the other is more like repeated manufacturing. They couldn't be more different.

This is the core insight of Lean Staffing.

By acknowledging the difference in the two piles (let's call the commodity process "staffing" and the artform "recruiting"), an organization can dramatically reduce its costs while simultaneously increasing its effectiveness. Because commodity processes can be subjected to quality control principles, the waste can be easily identified and ferreted out. Lean Staffing is a method for identifying and removing waste and friction in the staffing side of the Recruiting Shop.

Staffing is 80% of the work while Recruiting is the 20% that produces 80% of the results. (The 20% spent recruiting is a productive use of energy to acquire "game changers" who are 80% of the value in the Recruiting operation.) Removing waste and friction from 80% of the workload is a nice and rewarding target zone. There is simply no reason that the vast majority of tasks performed by the Recruiting Operation can't be rationalized and repaired using proven techniques.

That's what Lean Staffing does. It's based on the Lean Manufacturing concepts which gelled in the factories of Toyota:

It was with Taiichi Ohno at Toyota that all these themes came together and Lean Production finally took form. Levels of demand in the Post War economy of Japan were low and the focus of mass production on lowest cost per item via economies of scale had little relevance. Having visited and seen supermarkets in the US Taiichi Ohno recognised the scheduling of work should not be driven by sales or production targets but by actual sales. Given the financial situation during this period over production was not an option and thus the notion of Pull (rather than sales target driven Push) came to underpin production scheduling. Norman Bodek wrote the following in his foreword to a reprint of Ford's (1926) Today and Tomorrow: "I was first introduced to the concepts of just-in-time (JIT) and the Toyota production system in 1980. Subsequently I had the opportunity to witness its actual application at Toyota on one of our numerous Japanese study missions. There I met Mr. Taiichi Ohno, the system's creator. When bombarded with questions from our group on what inspired his thinking, he just laughed and said he learned it all from Henry Ford's book." (Wikipedia) (The whole Wikipedia article is very useful reading)

As mentioned last week, I have been spending a great deal of time with Scott Dow and the team at The Empower Network. They are the originators of this idea.  Their work on Lean Staffing is unlike anything I have seen in the past fifteen years. Over the next week or so, I am going to try to explain the details of what they do and why their customers say "Thank You" so loudly.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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