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How Lean Thinking Can Help Minimize the Great Resignation

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 2 years ago
  • Author: Staff Writer

How Lean Thinking Can Help Minimize the Great Resignation

This blog was inspired by a topic that came up in our recent webinar, How to Become Lean and Mean: Scaling Agile. You can listen to the full recording on our podcast.

The internet is full of headlines about the “Great Resignation” and how the last few years have inspired many people to rethink their relationship with work.

​How Lean Thinking Can Help Minimize the Great Resignation

Why are employees quitting or detaching? The answer is not as simple as higher compensation or better offers.

A recent Gallup article stated it succinctly:

“It’s not an industry, role or pay issue. It’s a workplace issue.”

And the costs for employee disengagement can be immense:

  • Gallup calculated that disengaged employees cost their organization 34% of salary. An average of 17.2% of employees are disengaged. For a 5,000-person company, this costs $17.5m. Unreasonable expectations top the list of disengagement.

  • According to SHRM, “The cost of replacing a high-level technical employee is about $76,250. This includes loss of efficiency, sunk cost, recruitment fees, onboarding and hiring costs, etc.”

This time of disruption provides a moment to reflect on how companies operate, lead, and manage their employees, and which aspects of our workplace keep employees engaged.

What makes this a great place to work?

What gets our employees excited about doing their jobs each day?

What parts of our culture are mission-critical, and what elements aren’t necessary to be great moving forward?

When it comes to software development, some answers can be found in the lean mindset principles contained within the Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) framework.

Joshua Jack, Vice President of Professional Services at MATRIX, explains:

“Traditionally in development, you had a PMO who planned out a body of work. Then when you got to a certain point, you send that to a build team. Then hand it to run team. Each one of those are so separate that people in build and run never saw impact on portfolio. This very siloed approach created a certain detachment on the team about the value of what they were producing."

“By contrast, by applying LPM principles, you get rid of these isolating siloes. You create a visible body of work at the portfolio level which everyone can see and react to. You can apply Kanban principles to portfolio with things like tracking and limiting work in progress. Looking at processes to lean them out and eliminate waste. By overlaying these principles, you get better engagement at portfolio level.”

Specifically, LPM thinking:

  • Elevates transparency of work

  • Provides constant feedback from marketplace on what is valuable

  • Scales back features allowing practitioners to pivot and respond quickly

  • Brings team level of satisfaction that their work is being seen, used, and valuable

  • Allows teams and individuals to understand the direction and North Star of the company and to provide solutions within that framework

Business behavior experts Aubrey Daniels concur about how creating a shared sense of winning helps engagement:

“Organizations need to develop clear paths for employees to learn, develop, and help the organization be successful. Clear communication around winning can increase the reinforcing value of achieving results. Other ways to increase the value around achieving results include having employees select what results they want to focus on or setting goals that are aligned with the organization’s strategic initiatives.”

Worried about your workers leaving?

Lean thinking is one big way to keep them engaged, valued, and productive.

Read more about the “Virtues of Lean Portfolio Management” on the MATRIX blog or listen on our podcast.