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Lean Staffing VIII

(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 begin sourcing?"

When you combine flow processing and a pull system you get the following:

  1. Better communication between hiring manager and recruiter
  2. Better candidate 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.


The Lean Staffing Series so far:

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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