Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lean Management

Our conversation in class today about Lean Management was interesting and got me thinking about "production" and "efficiency".  It makes sense to me that HPT professionals in manufacturing settings would be concerned with productivity and would want to avoid waste.  And, on the surface, it seems like anything that doesn't directly impact production would be something that could be improved.  Employee down-time, side conversations, waiting, etc. could be perceived as negatives because all of those things decrease productivity.  

However, the question that I was left with was what impact things like breaks, conversations among co-workers, etc. have on morale and what impact morale has on productivity and effectiveness.  Those are probably difficult things to measure, but I think it might be a mistake to approach productivity from a strictly technical, non-human standpoint.  I guess that from a Human Performance Technology standpoint these sorts of things fall into the category of incenvites/rewards, organizational culture, etc.  All of the efficiencies in the world still don't eliminate the fact that much of manufacturing depends upon human agents and that they can't be treated just like production machines.  

I guess that the challenge in all of this for practitioners is finding that balance between efficiency and practices that promote morale.

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