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How Do We Define Waste in Workflow | Part 4

Define Waste in Workflow

Last week, we looked at how we utilize our time. I am hoping from that exercise it really brought a lot of things into perspective. Today, we are going to take those results and really analyze to see where we are wasting our time. First, how do we define waste?

In a very strict sense, according to the go Lean Six Sigma Site waste is “any step or action in a process that is not required to complete a process (called “Non Value-Adding”) successfully.” Our goal is to get rid of as much waste as possible so that we are left with steps in the workflow that actually help us to complete the process and add value for our clients or “Value-adding”. This part in the process is probably the hardest step to complete. You have to come to the realization that some of my time is waste. An easier way to remember the kinds of waste is to remember my good friend Mr Tim Woods:

  • T – Transportation – Moving people, products & information
  • I – Inventory – Storing parts, pieces, documentation ahead of requirements
  • M – Motion – Bending, turning, reaching, lifting (So yes, any movement is waste)
  • W – Waiting – For parts, information, instructions, equipment
  • O – Over production – Making more than is IMMEDIATELY required
  • O – Over processing – Tighter tolerances or higher grade materials than are necessary
  • D – Defects – Rework, scrap, incorrect documentation
  • S – Skills – Under utilizing capabilities, delegating tasks with inadequate training

So how does this apply to our workflow? Lets look at those times we wrote down last week a little closer:

  1. Look at your times you wrote down and see what steps in your workflow you are spending a lot of time on
  2. For each of the identified steps ask yourself:
    1. Will this add to my client experience (value added)?
    2. Does this have to be accomplished for my business?
    3. What is the worst thing that could happen if this is removed?
  3. If the majority of the questions above are no or nothing would happen if this step is gone, you should consider taking it out.
  4. You would do this for all of your major steps identified
  5. For each step you can eliminate put a “X” through them on your workflow diagram.
  6. Look at other steps to see if they can be consolidated or redistributed to other people.

No Excuses

As you are looking at these steps the two pieces of advice I can give you is to be honest and just go by the numbers. A lot of clients I work with feel very passionately about their workflow and will make excuses not to touch or modify it. Even when their process is making them go bankrupt financially or in their relationship. I advise my clients to avoid this by understanding that the step, in consideration, is not a reflection of you or who you are. It does not and will not ever define you or your business. This step is nothing more than a step in your process you need to evaluate to see if it is helping to serve your clients.

The goal of this part in the process is to get rid of waste and redistribute steps among people to maximize efficiency.  Want to develop your action plan now?  Check back in next week to find out how.









Jason is a Arbinger, Spectrum, and Crucial Conversations Coach as well as a workflow specialist.



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