Lean “Decision Factories” a new model for survival for knowledge workers

An excellent article in the Globe and Mail today describes the gradual decay of the white collar job function as it pertains to the large organization business cycles. Most companies are guilty of hiring full time staff only to under utilize them. The original commentary was referenced from an article in the Harvard Business Review where the issues are covered in depth.

Knowledge workers are being treated as production or “factory” workers as they are completing repetitive tasks in long cycles where, unlike labour tasks, “cannot be readily codified and transferred to others”.

Applying a “Lean Framework” to the situation would allow a project bias to emerge with it’s immediate benefits. These would range from shorter decision cycles based on new drivers like customer development vs. engineering driven product development for example.

The question becomes, who should be responsible for driving this new efficiency shift? The article sort of alludes to the fact that HR is there to manage “jobs and performance”. Should they take ownership of retraining, implementation and long term success? (Hint- not likely to over rule sales and marketing KPI’s for revenue attribution)

If staff positions are being killed off in support of a project bias, how does one reformat their CV and skill sets to not only transition -but to excel at project oriented work and contribute to a fast paced collaborative environment?

I suppose the old adage “Lead, Follow or Get out of the way” will soon apply.

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