Where is value created?
In the value streams where people change or transform the functionality of materials or services into things which our customers are willing to pay for. It isn’t created in the staff groups that live in Corporate headquarters. Yet, the question often comes up – who is there to serve who?
Wouldn’t it make sense for staff groups to work on problems that eliminate waste from the value streams. This allows our people to spend more time creating value for our customers. Alas, often this isn’t the case. Instead we see staff groups acting like petty bureaucrats making and enforcing policies that take people away from doing value added work in the value streams and spending their time on things they weren’t trained for or filling in reports to managers in faraway places who would never dream of going to Gemba. Why? It’s easier to ask someone to fill in a report for me.
A recent example that comes to mind is a large multi-national company that downsized it’s HR dept. Now all inquiries about benefits, job postings, and in fact any HR policy were to be handled by the Team Leaders and the Shift Supervisors. Without the depth of training and experience to handle the issues that come up, these folks now spend large portions of their day chasing around searching for answers to questions raised by Team Members. The rate of improvement has slowed down but they did reduce costs in HR.
Wouldn’t it make sense to do things the other way around. To focus on eliminating everything that takes away from front line people doing value creating work for our customers. Isn’t this the real role of support staff – to support the value stream and the people in it.