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TLS Continuum: I know my organization and we are waste free

How many times have you heard this from a department manager or even from top management? Everyone thinks they are basically running a tight ship but under the surface lies this scary monster we call waste. It is right under our noses and we choose to ignore it for whatever reason. Some are subtle nuances to our processes, other are the result of a just not the way we do things here. No matter what the excuse it is still costing your organization time, productivity and employee engagement. Whether it is extra steps in a process or failure to listen to your customer you are creating non-value added activities, which equates to waste.

Consider these examples:

  • A governmental agency discovered that in the process of hiring a middle management executive the Job description was reviewed and approved three times by the same person
  • A quality engineer office was moved from the second floor to the first with all her files remaining on the second floor. Every time she needed a file it took her 25 minutes from her workday to retrieve the file and return to her desk.
  • When you process mapped out the ordering system for a corporate sale within a major book retailer, the steps covered 9 legal pages to complete the order of a single title.

We advocate, as does most process improvement professionals, the creation of a standard of work. When we ask our human capital assets to stray away from that standard we create waste. When we institute a policy and then two weeks later we have created another policy, which supersedes the first one we have created waste.

Understand that your organization is not waste free and may never reach that lofty goal, but we do need to strive to reach as close as we can to the end result.

The TLS Continuum acknowledges nine types of waste in every organization. It should be noted that many organizations only recognize seven of them. The types of waste are:

Overproduction- Most organizations have a tendency to create too much stuff. We create extra steps when fewer would suffice. Or how about the annoyance of many of your job candidates when you ask them to complete a hard application when you had them fill out an online application?

Waiting – We are quick to say we need something but then we procrastinate making the decision to proceed. A customer says that they need something by a certain date and you religiously don’t meet those dates.

Transportation – By transportation we don’t necessarily mean getting into a vehicle. We are referring to having to make additional stops to get something to complete a project that is half way across the plant. We mean that if we drew a spaghetti diagram of traffic flows in the workplace we find that there are far too many steps required.

Over processing – This where the silos we referred to last week comes in. We say something is not our job so we have to go get someone else to complete a project., we add redundancy and extra steps to the process.

Excess Inventory – Does not have to be a physical thing. It could mean that there is more workload on the table then you have time to complete. Customer says they want something by Monday and by Wednesday you still have not delivered the requested service or product.

Defects – We as human resource professionals are human and we do make mistakes. Some are minor but others can be major. These are all wastes whether we forgot a punctuation mark to telling someone to report for work on the wrong date and wrong salary. These are all program wastes.

Motion – We are all in a constant of motion 24 hours per day. Sometimes thus motion is necessary for our survival. Other times it is a total waste of time. It can be in the form of moving a person from one place to another, it can be in the form of a coupling tasks or it can be the movement of data outputs when the motion is not necessary.

Underutilized People – The United Negro Fund had as its slogan that a mind is a horrible thing to waste. Well in the corporate setting the underutilization of the resources of our human capital assets is a horrible thing to waste.

Material Underutilization – When we talk about waste through material underutilization we are looking at being late for teleconference calls. Printing out every email and design errors on printing jobs.

Everywhere we turn our organizations have non-value added activities and they are hurting the performance and the sustainability of the organization. It is critical that every organization takes the time and look for those underlying wastes within your organization. You will not regret doing so.

When was the last time you looked for these hidden organizational problems?

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