In the human side of things we regularly hear about medical conditions that can result in death yet we can overlook their presence because they are asymptomatic. The condition is present but unless a series of diagnostic tests are performed the patient never knows the problem exists.
Our organizations are no different. Every corporation has hidden in its processes; there are every day non-value added activities that serve no customer demands. Which serve no benefit to the organization. Like the medical conditions mentioned above these non-value added activities are there because we have never looked for them. They are present but we turn a blind eye to their existence. Consider this data point. Jay Arthur in his book Free, Perfect and Now states that out every $100 of corporate spend you are wasting $25-$40. The sad part is that the vast majority of this waste is right under your noses because you have not looked for it. This 8th part of this series will look at those silent killers and how we can as an organization deal with them. Taiichi Ohno of Toyota suggested originally that every organization was confronted with the existence of seven types of non-value added activities. Today many have increased the categories to nine. It is the more recent categories that we will cover in this 8th part of the series.
Waste type 1: Overproduction
The initial form of waste or MUDA is that of over production. As organizations we tend to create way too much stuff. Whether it is parts on the factory floor or excess paper in the service side of the organization. When was the last time you really looked at your processes and saw steps that made no sense in today’s world? Consider your hiring process where you have an applicant complete and application in the Applicant Tracking System and then have them complete a paper application. This is waste of time when a manager has to be sent this paper application when they just as easily could open it up in the tracking system.
Waste type 2: Waiting
Waiting is inevitable. We wait for parts to be delivered to the floor. We wait for management to make a decision on an issue. We understand that not all waiting is a bad thing. However when that wait time becomes excessive and it results in not meeting the demands of our customer it becomes waste.
Waste type 3: Transportation
In every organization in existence we move people, materials and equipment on a daily basis. The question is whether the way we transport these is the most efficient way to do so. A leading financial firm decided to track a document through one of their processes. When it was all done the document moved the equivalent of 8 miles. Or a form is needed but it available only one place in the building and to retrieve it requires a hike all the way across the building. The lost time used in obtaining that form is waste to the organization in both productivity and dollars.
Waste 4: Over-processing
The goal of our review of the HR processes within our organizations is to look for steps or tasks we undertake that have no bearing on what the voice of the customer is telling us they want. In many organizations this becomes a huge area of inefficiency and non-effective use of our time. Take under consideration this scenario that we recently learned about. The job requisition was reviewed and improved three times in the hiring process by the same person. If it has been already approved is it necessary to do it twice more? Think about the silo in your organization that has “their own way of doing something.” If it is different than the rest of the organization the redundancy causes waste. Or even worse think of the department within your organization who thinks they are better than everyone else. Their attitude results in waste to the organization.
Waste type 5: Excess Inventory
Usually when we think about inventory we think of physical product. Inventory refers to how much product is on hand. Here we are talking less about product accumulation and more about just plain too much stuff on hand. Think for a moment about the last time someone created a new form. Inevitably what happens is that 2 years in the process someone changes the form and the old ones are thrown in the circular file. This creates waste. Another side of this coin is when we have so much work flowing through the process there is no way we can complete the work in a reasonable time frame.
Waste type 6: Defects
In some circles the waste (muda) would be considered carelessness. However, mistakes do happen. Considering that statement many defects can be avoided. I fully understand that there will never be a perfect process. Having said that we tend to allow defects because we reward human capital when they fulfill the standard work level. We encourage them to make mistakes in the name of productivity. The ultimate outcome is that these defects do not meet the needs of the customer so we have to try and fix the problem. Providing more waste.
Waste type 7: Excess Motion
Unless your organization is on the verge of bankruptcy, every organization within the global workplace is in a constant state of motion. Non-value added tasks are added when this motion means that the organization is not operating at the most efficient level it can. In the course of the workday we move product, paper, and other outputs through the organization. When that movement creates needless movement it becomes waste to the organization and our clients.
Waste type 8: Underutilized human capital
Can anyone remember the United Negro College fund commercial pitch line regarding the mind? It stated that the mind is a terrible thing to waste. The use of human capital assets within our organizations is no less an issue. We consistently talk about the need for employee engagement and then we throw up obstacles for reaching that engagement. We create that waste by staffing levels by confining employee development and the way we treat the human capital in our organizations. Each of these actions lead to waste within our organizations.
Waste type 9: Material underutilization
The final source of waste or muda is material underutilization. This can run the gamut from the fairly simple to the much more intense scenarios. Are you one who has to print out every email? We create marketing pieces and only put two pieces per page instead of four, we have created waste.
Waste in our organizations is truly the silent killer. It robs us of valuable time to be the most productive organization we can. It also robs us of the time to be completely serving the needs of our customers both internal and external. Take the time to look at you organization. Take the time to identify, remove and protect your organization from introducing this killer to your organization. It is your choice whether you live with the silent killer or you open your eyes and take definitive steps to rid the organization of non-value added activities from the point of view of the customer.