Lean Blog Interviews — 228: Zeynep Ton, “The Good Jobs Strategy”

Joining me for episode #228 of the podcast is Zeynep Ton, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Operations Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. You may have recently seen her being interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on CNN. She is author of the 2014 book The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits. For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/228. In this podcast, topics include: How she transitioned from industrial engineering and supply chain management to studying retail companies. In the vicious cycle of the “bad jobs strategy, ” why is this considered conventional wisdom that the way to maximize profits in a low-margin industry is to offer minimal pay, training, and hours? What are the components (and system) of “the good jobs strategy?” What connections do you draw between the good jobs strategy and Toyota or Lean? Do the companies or founders that have a good jobs strategy sort of naturally embrace it? Of the “good jobs” components, is it most difficult to help people see that 100% utilization is often very harmful and that “slack” is necessary? Is it easier for privately held companies to pursue the good jobs strategy having less quarterly financial pressure? Any thoughts on why society focuses so much on wages, while seemingly ignoring other aspects of workplace conditions that need to be improved?