7 Wastes: Defined

in Waste
Waste isn't waste
When we talk about waste in a business it is usually the overflowing bins and scrap metal in the skips that people are referring to. In the food industry we often look at the amount of wasted food at the end of the week. Waste, when put into the context of organisational development and Lean Operations, looks at the way we conduct our day-to-day practices and requires a slightly different perspective.

The 7 Wastes
The 7 Wastes classification has been around for decades and yet many UK organisations still haven't fully grasped this concept. The power of realising this concept and then driving the waste out of your organisation can help you to be more competitive than your rivals.
The 7 Wastes are:
"Defects: Making the product to the wrong specification / providing the wrong product / providing incorrect details.
"Overproduction: Making more than what is required at the expense of your organisation (be this products or reports for example).
"Transport: Taking the long way round - not having sequential processes next to each other.
"Waiting: Delays caused by the organisation of resources and processes.
"Inventory: Risking obsolescence from having too much stock.
"Motions: Wearing people out from not optimising the way we do things - like tools being in the wrong places, or bureaucratic meetings.
"Processes: Not defining the smartest way to do something e.g. testing an electrical engineer for colour blindness after appointing them!
Becoming aware of these wastes in your organisation can open the door to improvement for you.

The 8th Waste
Over the last decade another waste has become more apparent - that of not utilising the organisation's most important asset, people. The 8th waste is 'Untapped Human Potential'. The people doing the work are the ones who have a lot of the ideas on how to improve and engaging them is vital. In fact, if you conquer this waste first they will probably drive the other seven out for you.

A new pair of eyes
Understanding this view of waste allows you to look at your organisation from a different perspective and soon you will see the opportunities all around you to make your business even more competitive. It's just like having a new pair of eyes look at your business, it becomes very easy to ask 'why do we do it this way?' when you see it from a waste perspective.

Continuous Improvement
The 7 wastes should be a foundation piece of any continuous improvement function. The ideas are easy to grasp and lead to improvements across the whole of the business - from the re-arrangement of tooling to revising customer support programmes. Take advantage today by walking around your organisation and 'seeing' waste and then eliminating it.
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Giles Johnston has 1 articles online

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7 Wastes: Defined

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This article was published on 2011/04/02