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Lean Staffing VII

(December 12, 2006) Flow

"Lean Staffing produces breath taking results", says Scot Dow of the Lean Staffing Institute. "Once the value stream has been well mapped and  clearly wasteful steps (Muda) have been eliminated from the process, then 'breakthrough' improvements start to happen. If you're willing to see beyond what the ATS tells you, you can realize astonishing improvement. As waste is eliminated, the Staffing Process begins to breathe and take on a life of its own. The real adventure begins after the obvious Muda is out of the picture."

This is the point in Lean Staffing where the process begins to "flow".

Seasoned proponents of Lean Thinking like to compare the difference between kaikaku and kaizen. Kaikaku is a rapid change event as opposed to Kaizen which is smaller incremental changes. Kaikaku is revolutionary while Kaizen is evolutionary. Kaizen means continuous improvement through employee involvement - getting all employees involved through their improvement ideas. Kaikaku means 'radical change,' 'transformation of the mind,' 'working with others to achieve radical change,' and bringing new and vital energy to your organization. It also means innovation.

One of the things that distinguishes the Lean Staffing process from other TQM approaches is the emphasis on the possibility, importance and desirability of Kaikaku (radical change). Rather than just focusing on the activities of Recruiters and Staffing professionals in isolation (the department level approach of a TQM intervention), the Lean approach looks at the entire system and asks "What needs to be done?" The answer is usually a detailed specification and the development of work teams who are task-specific rather than department-centric.

A well executed Lean Staffing initiative boosts morale and reduces costs. This is a stark contrast to the re-engineering movement which focused exclusively on streamlining the process. The idea is to flow the service through the organization to the customer without pauses or stops for friction caused by the organization. Waste is the enemy. Flow.

In psychology, flow has eight attributes (Wikipedia):

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible).
  2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time - one's subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

Flow in Lean Staffing is similar. Rather than pushing the process (and doesn't it always seem to be uphill?) things flow towards their specified end state.

To update our earlier headline, not only do ATS hide the flow (by obscuring the critical data required to understand the value stream) they actually inhibit the possibility of flow.

The Lean Staffing Series so far:

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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