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Happy Birthday John Sumser!

Lean Staffing IV

(September 28, 2007) The Lean Staffing Institute currently teaches the use of ten or so "tools". Ranging from Design of Experiments to Mental Maps (Models), these tools are used by Lean Staffing groups to identify waste, determine its cause(s) and develop actionable solutions. The Lean Staffing approach takes a systems perspective, assumes deep personal responsibility and attempts to drive cost and friction out of staffing processes. Anyone who has read the Fifth Discipline will immediately understand that systems thinking is the key to effective organizational transformation.

As an aside, Lean Staffing is an approach that tries to install permanent change rather than a programmatic flavor of the day. By converting the staffing function into a continuously improving learning organization, LSI (the Lean Staffing Institute) attempts to embed the tools and techniques required to keep the staffing function proactive and effective. The results are pretty impressive.

The exercises, workshops and handouts for the module on Mental Maps  (Models) offer a way to compare and resolve differences in assumptions. It is very clear that a huge source of waste in the staffing process is the disconnect between the various players in their views of who does what and what is supposed to happen. By detailing those assumptions and properly setting expectations on a detailed level, the Mental Maps material ensures that communications between the players flow smoothly and relatively free of misperception. The LSI approach moves the staffing function from a dysfunctional communications process that includes conflicting assumptions to a smoother operation with shared assumptions and expectations.

The clever thing about this approach is that it requires that a range of conversations be held and documented as an integral part of the staffing method. This ensures that all members of the choir are singing from the same sheet. The process reduces friction by treating thre underlying problem as a normal communications issue. We think this stuff about mental maps should be a part of every recruiter's toolkit.

Design of Experiments is a standard statistical process control tool.

Statistical process control was pioneered by Walter A. Shewhart and taken up by W. Edwards Deming with significant effect by the Americans during World War II to improve industrial production. Deming was also instrumental in introducing SPC methods to Japanese industry after that war. Dr. Shewhart created the basis for the control chart and the concept of a state of statistical control by carefully designed experiments. While Dr. Shewhart drew from pure mathematical statistical theories, he understood data from physical processes never produce a "normal distribution curve" (a Gaussian distribution, also commonly referred to as a "bell curve"). He discovered that observed variation in manufacturing data did not always behave the same way as data in nature (Brownian motion of particles). Dr. Shewhart concluded that while every process displays variation, some processes display controlled variation that is natural to the process, while others display uncontrolled variation that is not present in the process causal system at all times. (Wikipedia)

While that may sound like gobbledygook, it underlines the very essence of the LSI move. They are bringing effective thinking from manufacturing straight into a service process. The Design of Experiments module teaches Recruiters how to objectively analyze their system, looking for waste and bias. Not surprisingly, there are a large number of improvement opportunities within each individual staffing process.

Once a Lean Staffing Team is able to measure and quantify its processes, it starts to unearth even more assumption-laden mental models.

Related Articles:
  • Lean Staffing I
  • Lean Staffing II
  • Lean Staffing III
  • Lean Staffing IV

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