We can speak of Lean and human resources in two related paths: The role of HR in Lean deployment and Lean principles applied to improving HR. We will address both.

First, let’s look at the role of human resources in Lean deployment.

Mike Hoseus – Executive Director of Center for Quality People and Organizations, Inc. discusses Lean HR in this video from Lean Frontiers.

He asks the question, “Is HR a silo in your organization? Or is it contributing to your Lean transformation?”

Lean involves the entire organization and business. That involves the four P’s: The Company’s --

  • Purpose
  • Process
  • People
  • Problem Solving

 As a result, human resources cannot be a silo. Instead it must be a strategic business partner. Mike discusses HR’s role using the four P’s.

You can view Mike’s video here. 

In another presentation regarding Human Resource’s role in Lean Transformation, Beatrice Castellani, plant manager for Integrated Textile Solutions takes us through her view of how Toyota’s HR Department operates.

  • HR is the most powerful department at Toyota
  • HR is a key aid in providing job security
  • HR representatives are Gemba witnesses
  • Slow promotions and reward for teamwork
  • The company and the individual have a tied fate

You can view Beatrice’s video here.

Now having focuses on HR and Lean, let’s look at Lean in HR. How is HR applying Lean principles in their department for improvement?

In a paper by Jan Byfuglien, Heidi Torstensen and Anne Trolie of Statistics Norway (the Norwegian Statistics Bureau) the authors discuss how Lean was used to improve their HR department.

The requirement for Lean to be applied in HR was driven by the following needs:

  • Improve efficiency of different operations
  • Improve responsiveness in relation to the needs to the organization
  • Improve internal and external communication
  • Develop a more robust management of different tasks - less risk when people are absent
  • Align tasks and activities with overall strategies for Statistics Norway

Statistics Norway chose the following HR areas for improvement via Lean:

  • Recruitment
  • Training course management
  • Wage management
  • Employees’ management participation
  • Improved internal organization of HR unit

The authors go on to discuss the details of applying Lean in each of these areas.

You can access the Statistics Norway paper here.