May 26, 2017

Lean Six Sigma at Your Firm:
Non-Utilized Talent

by Debbie Foster, Affinity Consulting Group, LLC

They say that the most valuable asset in any organization is its people. But, in many working environments, we don’t see everyone working to their highest potential. Waste is defined as any activity that does not result in moving the process toward completion, or performing tasks that do not add value to the finished product.

However, the waste Non-Utilized Talent is a bit unique. It’s focused on employees that are not being utilized to their full capacity or employees that are working on tasks that should be done by someone else. Remember, the exercise of identifying waste in your law firm is to help you find the most efficient way to complete a process. You also want to make sure that the right tasks are being done by the right people.

Let’s dig a little deeper into “everyone working to their highest potential.” Do you have lawyers doing work that paralegals should be doing? What about associates working for hours on something that a partner could do in less than one? Or, partners who are doing the work associates could be doing? The focus really needs to be on utilizing people by making sure their skills, abilities and knowledge are being used in the most appropriate way.

Another part of non-utilized talent is about involving team members in problem solving. It is so important that we encourage innovation at every level in our firms. Ask people what they think about how they get their work done, and find opportunities where the people doing the work are encouraged to find the better way.

Lastly, protect your A-team. Often times the brightest and the best are asked to do so much more than the rest. That can result in burn out and frustration by the people you count on the most. Nothing is more frustrating to A-players than working alongside people they cannot count on. Next up, TRANSPORTATION.