Canadian Manufacturing

What Facebook can teach employers about lean and the workforce

by Gregg Gordon   

Human Resources Operations blog Lean

How to promote in the office the lean techniques employees use at home.

Employees have adopted lean techniques faster than their employers realize.

They’re communicating frequently with others so they can react immediately to changes in demand. They’re using decision support tools to analyze total supply chain costs. And they are electronically recording and sharing their status several times a day with others who benefit from that information.

Unfortunately for businesses, employees are likely at home when they are performing these high productivity tasks. Soccer moms are coordinating last-minute changes in their kid’s schedules. Consumers increased online sales through Amazon by 42 per cent last year. 500 million users on Facebook are regularly updating their own network of friends about the details of their life.

And yet when a company asks employees to improve the way they perform their work, the company will face numerous reasons why it can’t be done. The basis of these objections lies in employee fears reflecting how the change will impact their ability to perform their job, the potential for wage loss and potentially job losses as well.


The cruel irony of this employee behavior is that the same information management skills and behaviours employees use personally are the major drivers of increased global competition at the corporate level. The web-enabled consumer is forcing companies participating along all points in the supply chain to lower costs and reduce lead-times faster than ever before.

Consumers wield significant power at the very end of the supply chain. With a click of a button, consumers can find a retailer anywhere in the world that has inventory or will ship for free.

The question remains: Why aren’t employees using the skills they have developed at home to improve their performance at work? Companies have made it clear they need help from employees to survive. And yet employees continue to resist change.

To understand why this is true, the table below compares the difference between why employees use technology differently at home than they do at work.


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