Lean Waste #4: Unused Talent

Years ago, when I was cutting my teeth on Total Quality Management (TQM, the predecessor to Lean) we would say, “With every pair of hands you get a free brain. Use it!” The reference was to talent hired in, mainly, manufacturing and logistics settings that were never asked their opinion or for input on how to better do their jobs—even though they were the ones actually doing them. What a waste! People with ideas, big and small, that just might make a big difference in how the business operated, its growth and profitability.

That’s not the only waste of human talent. Having gifted and educated people slotted in jobs well beneath their proficiency is a waste. Refusal to train and develop existing talent is a waste. Demeaning and demoralizing talent through concrete head supervisors is waste. Hiring consultants to solve problems the people already know how to solve is waste. Stifling employee creativity is waste. Ignoring employee engagement is waste. The list is long and very costly.

Look around at the people in the company. Tap into them. Enable them. Listen to them. Maximize their contribution.

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