Human Resource’s Role in Lean

I am a firmly believe the Human Resource department needs to be a leader  in the transformation of  the culture during a lean implementation.  HR can and should play a role in helping with training of lean tools and concepts as well as the cross training of employees so the staff is more flexible.  HR can help with people having trouble transforming from a traditional culture to a lean culture.

A common  way to understand lean in is through two pillars: Continuous Improvement and Respect for People.  In my opinion, the greatest impact the HR organization can have on a lean transformation is the education on what respect for people really means and looks like.

Lean is about people and gaining everyone’s engagement in continuous improvement.  One reason an organization would like everyone engaged is to show respect for them.  It shows they value their brains and hearts and don’t look at them as solely hands and feet.

So if lean is about people, who better to educate and train on skills and behaviors to show the respect for people principle than HR?

HR can help with personality assessments, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  This allows people to get a better understanding of how the people they work with think.  When the group understands each other they can show respect for how one another operates and thinks.

HR can also train the group in skills on how to have open and honest communication based on your relationship with a person or group of people.

HR can also give training on the Woodstone Principles that are aligned with lean thinking.  The principles are:

  1. You are accountable for your performance
  2. You are accountable for the performance of your stake holders
  3. Subordinate your agenda for the betterment of the company

Finally, HR can help by educating on how to include people. When people feel included in the business they are more likely to understand and engage in the improvement of the business.

Lets respect Human Resources and ask them to use their knowledge in people to help the organization become better at showing respect for people.

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Posted on April 11, 2011, in Development, Engagment, Flip The Thinking, Leadership, Respect for People and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Matt,

    Excellent points. HR can be an easily overlooked alley in the Lean transformation. They should want to be part of the culture change if there is true top down support.

    Chris

  2. My question is “How does HR lead with regard to respect for people?” when it seems that sometimes they are trusted as much as the KGB in the former Soviet Union. As seen in the Dilbert comic strip, HR is often perceived as “evil”; just waiting to make life miserable for the average worker.

    What could they do to help them to get beyond that image?

  3. I am trying to connect with a HR person who has been through a lean manufacturing implementation. colin.roach@aol.com

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