Lean but Agile: Rethink Workforce Planning and Gain a True Competitive Edge

Lean but Agile: Rethink Workforce Planning and Gain a True Competitive Edge

Lean but Agile: Rethink Workforce Planning and Gain a True Competitive Edge

Lean but Agile: Rethink Workforce Planning and Gain a True Competitive Edge


William Rothwell honored with the ASTD Distinguished Contribution Award in Workplace Learning and Performance.

As organizations strive to maximize efficiency to meet stringent budgets, a general "do more with less" mandate is no longer sufficient. Managers and executives must evaluate every process and every role, and do away with assumptions about how work gets done and who does it. Lean but Agile presents a system for analyzing work and selecting the ideal combination of cost-effective resources - employees, consultants, contractors, temporary workers, vendors - to accomplish it.

The book advocates changes in hiring, goal-setting, learning and development, and performance management, and discusses the introduction, implementation, and management of lean work and agilestaffing methods. It also explores the fundamental role technology can play in the transformation.

Packed with practical advice, examples, guides, worksheets, diagrams, and metrics, Lean but Agile will help leaders, managers, and human resource professionals optimize their workforces while still achieving superior results.


Full-time jobs may be relics of a bygone age, though work never seems to go away and, if anything, only becomes more complex. This book is a polemical introduction to a key issue of the day: how to optimize efficient and effective ways to achieve work results in keeping with customer expectations while also minimizing the costly expenses involved in maintaining a cadre of full-time workers.

This issue has been bubbling beneath the surface of workforce issues for a long time. As early as 1994, William Bridges was writing about the “dejobbing of America,” and he predicted that the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job would go the way of the dinosaur. More recently employers have continued to look for creative ways to cut costs while maintaining quality ser vice and production. They have tried many ways, such as downsizing; using more contingent workers, contractors, and temporary workers; offshoring; outsourcing; relying on “permanent part-time” staff; relying on teleworkers; and increasing overtime among existing workers. The trouble is that these efforts seem to be approached without any particular rhyme or reason and often do not seem to be driven by any logic other than expediency and a perpetual eagerness to try anything to cut staffing costs.

What is driving this trend toward fundamentally rethinking how work is done? Two words: cost and productivity. Full-time workers are costly, given their fixed salaries, benefits, and overhead. And they may not be any more productive than part-time workers, consultants, temps, or other ways of staffing to get work done. Consider:

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