Isn’t Lean just another way to reduce headcount? This question has been frequently put to me over the years. From my perspective, for Lean to be introduced effectively, the business must have a very clear purpose & strategy for using a Lean approach. Do they want to grow their business, increase market share, reduce costs, increase client satisfaction or improve employee morale? – The list goes on.
It is the strategy that might lead to a reduction in headcount or a change in role for some employees. Lean is simply a methodology that enables the business to identify opportunities to create capacity. The business strategy determines how they utilize this capacity.
Failure to consider different ways to generate capacity might result in the business simply taking capacity without conducting due diligence to ensure there is capacity to give. In the short term, the business will achieve its goal. However reducing or moving employees without ensuring their workload can be easily absorbed can have a drastic impact on the quality, efficiency & productivity of the remaining workforce.
So not only is Lean not the key influencer in cutting costs and/ or reducing headcount, when the business decides on its strategy, Lean will actually help it achieve its goal in the most effective way possible.
Would love to hear your views on this!