(December 13, 2006) We asked Scott Dow to help define "Flow and Pull".
Here's what he told us:
Flow – hiring managers
typically prefer batch processing (over flow). Batch processing (i.e.
"send me over some candidates to choose from…") is a corporate
recruiting tradition. (So much of staffing follows corporate
"traditions"). It's what hiring managers are most familiar with. It
promotes indecision and a floating candidate spec. Batch processing
creates waste tied to both waiting and defective candidates. The
candidate threshold in batch environments is lower than in a flow
processing environment. Staffing departments engaged in "in-box
recruiting" are the worst. They run a monster search, grab a bunch of
resumes and flush them to the hiring manager. Walla! That should keep
'em quite for a while!
Pull – (vs. push).
Push systems promote overproduction, over processing, waiting and
inventory waste. We see it all the time. The
Kanban is a great tool
when applied to staffing. The signal to the recruiting department that
the hiring manager has interviewed the last candidate and would like to
see another. Pull systems force the hiring manager to engage in the
process. It promotes a dialog around every candidate that missed the
mark. That leads to continuous improvement. Often times the staffing
group "pushes" candidates across the desk of the hiring manager when the
hiring manager is ill prepared to focus on the (staffing) task at hand.
The recruiter (and candidate) wait, and wait, and wait. The push system
is the traditional approach. "I think we'll have an opening so can you
When you combine flow
processing and a pull system you get the following:
communication between hiring manager and recruiter
experience and a lower interview to offer ratio
We're surprised at the degree to which "batch
processing" is a part of our industry. Flow systems are designed to move the
pieces of a process as soon as they are ready to users, regardless of their
location or alignment in the organization. Batch processes, on the other hand,
accumulate results up to a threshold (we need 10 candidates before letting the
customer see them). The assumption is that a batch of work is somehow more
effective than a continuous flow.
Departments and divisions are examples of batch
thinking. Rather than orienting work around the customer or the project,
departments and divisions usually mean "consolidating one form of technical
expertise under one roof". The very idea of a Recruiting Department is batch
thinking. Flow oriented systems tend to have a project focus
Lean Staffing is an idea whose time has come.
Taking the early steps of TQM, six sigma and re-engineering to a new level, the
approach delivers real results in complex settings. As John Younger (of Accolo)
is fond of noting, the Recruiting function has systematically eluded the
productivity gains of the rest of the organization.