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The false economy of cutting back on investment in Lean

investment in Lean

January 6, 2017

These are troubling times economically and politically, with 2017 heralding a whole new level of uncertainty. According to the Financial Times, slow growth, rising inflation, weak sterling, the productivity slowdown and a stubbornly huge deficit all point to the need for “luck and skill to contain the economic damage” ahead. At times like this the corporate gut instinct is frequently to cut investment and batten down the hatches. I would argue that the wiser course of action is to go against the grain and invest when your competitors aren’t, especially if we’re talking about investment in Lean.

Investment in Lean is an investment in saving money in the longer term. With economic uncertainty expected to be a feature of daily life until at least 2019, now is not the time to be cutting back on measures which will improve the long-term sustainability and stability of your business. This irony was driven home to me recently when a client cancelled the hire of a Lean practitioner, citing cost-cutting as the reason.

There are many benefits associated with maintaining investment in Lean, a number of which are all the more pertinent during economically-challenging conditions.  The whole purpose of Lean is to reduce waste (both financial and otherwise), thus driving efficiency and finding savings that will impact directly on the bottom line.

Freeing up the time and resources of your workforce boosts productivity and creates opportunity for innovation, as well as inspiring confidence internally and externally.  With uncertainty the key feature of the economic forecast, confidence is a highly-prized commodity which will surely be in short supply among your competitors. As a result, corporate confidence will be a powerful influence on company performance.

The modus operandi of a Lean business is such that it binds colleagues together, focused on a shared goal of improvement and enhancement, both personally and jointly. The mindset is one of mutual trust and collective responsibility which naturally creates a strong, supportive network far better able to weather the economic storm. The adage of ‘safety in numbers’ was never truer than in a crisis situation.

Investment in Lean will also boost customer confidence during a downturn. If your competitors seek to save money by cutting corners, it is likely to be to the detriment of the customer experience.  By retaining your Lean-driven focus on customer satisfaction, and continuing investment in Lean programmes, your reputation, brand value and, ultimately, sales will reap the benefits.

As you consider your staffing needs for 2017 and think about how best to future-proof your organisation for Brexit and beyond, I urge you to protect investment in Lean and hold steady on your recruitment plans. If you face internal resistance I will happily help you put together the case for such a course of action as I firmly believe that cutting back now truly would be a false economy.

Don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your staffing needs in complete confidence.

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