Use “pull” systems to avoid overproduction.
As I read “The Toyota Way” I constantly tried to think about how I could apply these principles to what I do, HR. Reading the chapter on Principle 3, I repetitively came back to the idea of recruiting and how we pull talent from the marketplace and push them to hiring managers.
My problem with this principle is that it might work for the supply chain in manufacturing, but I’m not sure the principle is right for all of HR, like recruiting. Based on workforce needs, I might just want to constantly push candidates to hiring managers even when they are not needed. Have you ever run across the perfect candidate for a job, or just a great person you would want working for your organization in any capacity? Waiting for the right job to open up might mean a missed opportunity to hire this individual whereas a flexible approach to staffing allows you to hire exceptional talent when they are available.
Another area where I think JIT fails in HR is information. We’ll cover this again in a few days (principle 7), but suffice it to say that modern technology dashboards are designed to deliver easily viewed and informative organizational statistics on an ongoing basis so that problems can be identified immediately rather than as a reaction to an error.
There are of course areas in HR where JIT production makes complete sense. We think about how we deliver call center and support services, for which the needs are largely unknown until the issue is raised. The push/pull argument is really one of defining service delivery in all aspects of HR. How information is requested and fulfilled, and what information or processes are critical enough to be available at all times is something your organization should be considering at all times.