The Greatest Waste of All

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welcome to the lean smarts podcast i’m your host daniel crawford a lean expert at lean smarts and this is the show where i teach everything lean the goal is primarily your education to help you learn lean so that the world can be a better place and i do truly mean that in fact after this episode about the greatest waste of all you’re going to understand that more than ever before you can always find additional resources and support at in fact we do offer a free online lean community with free courses and other materials as well as a lean training academy that has a bunch of video resources to help engage your team and transform your organization or if you’re stumped and you need some help you can contact me for free and inquire about our consulting services we’re here to help you succeed now what about today’s episode i mean this is the first one right so it’s a big deal well today we’re going to talk about the greatest waste of all if you have had any previous exposure to lean then you probably know that one of the central ideas of lean is waste elimination so today we’re going to be continuing that idea but focusing on the greatest waste of all the wastes not just any waste i will give you a quick refresher though just in case you’re less familiar with lean and i will do that from time to time throughout all of these podcast episodes to try and catch people at all different levels of lean comprehension so here’s your quick rundown of waste it really comes after understanding value value is anything the customer wants it’s anything that typically transforms a product or excuse me material into the product or closer to the product so cutting hammering painting things like that that adds value because there’s transformation taking place waste is everything else and there are seven classic types of waste i learned them through the acronym timwood some people will hate on acronyms but whatever it can be helpful so here’s the seven the first is transportation the movement of stuff no tran no transformation from point a to point b so it’s wasteful next is inventory because if it’s just sitting on this shelf there’s no transformation and there’s a lot of consequences for the organization when there’s inventory just sitting there next is motion motion is the movement of people not of stuff but the people you could do the hokey pokey all day long at work breaking a sweat but it’s not transforming anything when you are walking back and forth or reaching and doing all those motions so motion is wasteful next is waiting waiting is wasteful and we feel that just naturally that waiting is frustrating but it creates waste too for an organization whether it’s waiting material or machines or man people next is over processing that is looked at two ways one is the waste of correction if you have a defect you process it a second time to correct it and that’s wasteful the other teaching on over processing is the waste of overdoing it essentially whenever you are doing more than is required to get the product right you know to customer satisfaction so painting grinding sanding you can over process your material in any of those situations the next waste is overproduction which is called the mother of all wastes because wherever you have over production it will give birth to all the other six types of waste and that’s a separate episode entirely but it’s very terrible overproduction is whenever you have more than what’s needed immediately now and then the last of the seven classic types of waste is defects which is kind of self-explanatory anything that is a quality issue or defective with the product that’s obviously wasteful now these are all bad things but they miss the greatest waste of all wastes and it was added to the canon uh decades down the road and called the eighth waste and it goes by a variety of names but i’m going to call it in this episode the waste of a wasted life now i’ve not heard it taught like this perhaps some people teach it this way but it is the truth the waste of a wasted life what is of more value than life itself and therefore what is of greater waste than the waste of life itself if you’ve ever lost a loved one you know that this is true there’s really nothing more important and more valuable in this life that we live than life itself it’s more important than work more important than money more important than anything and it’s measured by time you can steal money but you cannot steal time it is completely exhaustible you don’t get it back and so life is of the greatest value in this world it’s why wars and hunger and starvation and disease are so terrible because it is the wasting of our greatest resource life now this is not just new new theory and philosophy i’m throwing into the the world of lean it is very much credible as a lean idea the waste of life because i’m gonna prove it to you all you have to do is look at the founders of the toyota production system look at ig toyota the former president and chairman of the toyota motor corporation and responsible alongside taeichiono with inventing much of what is the toyota production system and a brief history lesson for you that is where lean was really discovered much of what we call lean is what was first observed in the toyota production system tps so ig says this employees are offering a very important part of their life to us if we don’t use their time effectively we are wasting their lives wow what he is saying is a very big deal he’s saying that people come to work and they give a company time if the company is not using their time effectively the company is wasting that person’s life it may not be a war it may not be disease it may not be starvation but there is a depletion of life itself happening when employees clock in and clock out and have their time wasted so this is why the waste of a wasted life is completely lean and i think you’ve got to agree with me there is no greater waste than this so there’s a lot at stake a ton at stake in the workplace just consider the fact that any working full-time working person 40 hours or more a week is spending 25 of their time at work that means if the company if your company is wasting people’s time you’re wasting a quarter of their life that is horrible i mean that’s a huge tragedy and so this has to be given attention there’s other statistics that have been well studied and researched uh gallup has published that 85 percent of employees are not engaged in the workplace and also that 33 percent of professionals cite boredom as the reason for leaving their job now these are the statistics but emotionally what is consciously or subconsciously felt by these disengaged people of which i’ve been one before or these board professionals of which i’ve also been one before is that man i feel like my life is being wasted here and that’s why i’m bored that’s why i’m angry because my life has value and my time is being underutilized it’s being wasted here that’s the source of my frustration so this is a big deal it’s a endemic it’s it’s everywhere yes it’s true that lean comes with all kinds of tools and technical jargon and strategies for creating flow and ensuring quality and lots of industrial engineering great great stuff i actually really enjoy it because i i am engineering minded but the truth is is that underneath all of it is this foundation of people and the value of people and the necessity of engaging every single person in the work of problem solving of improvement of contributing to creating value for the customer now when i talk about engaging employees i’m not talking about just maybe the generic employee engagement that you can find in some excellent books and other talking about is engaging people in the practice of continuous improvement that’s what we’re talking about when it comes to lean specifically in kaizen kaizen is a word meaning good change it’s a good change for the better and it’s intended to be everyone who does it every single day and in every place of an organization so i’m not talking about engaging employees in just a general sense which might be popular in the business world today and has some value but i mean specifically in the activities of kaizen of eliminating waste of maintaining excellent housekeeping and abnormality control that’s what happens in 5s productivity and then standardization those three activities really represent the core of kaizen practices and is central to engaging employees in meaningful work that creates value for customers it’s not about being charismatic or anything of that sort it’s these activities that need to be occurring and all the time and everywhere now i’ll give you a few reasons why three reasons why it’s in your interest to eliminate this greatest waste of all the waste of a wasted life the waste of people’s creativity and time and potential in your organization maybe i shouldn’t need to take time to do this but just in case let me delineate it a little bit the first reason is that companies that do engage their employees well in the work are 21 more profitable that’s from the same study done by gallup an engaged employee which is the case in any truly lean thinking organization is simply going to be more profitable for the organization this is not just charity to make use of people’s time and to respect them it’s actually in the interest of your organization to invest in your people and engage them in the work of continuous improvement so there is money in it even if i would argue that money is not necessarily the highest goal or motivator in engaging people and that’s because of the second reason i’ll give you to get rid of this greatest waste the second reason is it’s our moral obligation because if you believe that every person has value then you must also accept that it’s wrong it’s wrong to waste that person’s creativity and potential and everything that they can bring to the table in your organization we’re actually morally obligated to respect people and to make the best use of their time and so if you care about people if you respect them or i dare say even love and have compassion for people then you must do this and yes the money will follow you investing in your people it’s just that investing in your people doesn’t necessarily follow when your goal is just money so you can’t have the carts before the horse here the third reason why you need to eradicate this greatest waste of wasting people’s time and potential is that you’ll never realize world-class results without this world-class level of respect for people this reminds me of a central teaching to what’s called job relations in twi training within industries where it teaches that leaders get results through people you’ve gotta get results through the people well how do you get those results if you undervalue them or if you underestimate what they’re capable of or if you’re too busy to develop and challenge those people around you it just won’t happen you just will not reach world-class performance without you first having the right value for people and respecting them so this greatest waste of all is what many lean purists call the eighth waste of lean the waste of people’s skills or creativity or even genius on the job to make things better and the majority of organizations are not tapping into their people’s potential it’s also true that this eighth waste is the waste of a wasted life just like ig was saying earlier in this podcast and it’s actually the reason why lean smarts exist today that it actually started to help let the glory out in every person because every person has value and if we can help you let that value find expression then you can succeed and the world will be that much more transformed while you will find more instruction and lean education in this podcast the best of the best of what we have to offer you will find in our lean smarts academy it’s where we’ve got our best video training to help you learn lean engage your team and transform your organization in an industry that’s dominated by complicated and technical training we make it fun and simple because how else are you to let out that glory that value in every person in your workplace so head on over to to learn more and at the very least check out our free online community with some of the best free lean resources the internet has to offer well that’s all for today i look forward to sharing more with you soon in the next episode of the lean smarts podcast