“The Waiting is the hardest part”

Tom Petty was really on to something here when he wrote those words almost 30 years ago. Side note, wow, that makes me feel old. Other side note, Tom Petty was one of the first concerts I ever attended.

Anyway, back In episode 13, we introduced the concept of the 8 Wastes.

It’s used widely in the Lean Manufacturing arena but is something every business leader should become versed in. The idea is that one of our goals is the elimination of waste in our organization and that those wastes exist in various forms.

Today we’re going to be focusing on the waste of waiting.

When looking at the different types of waste, some are definitely more visible than others. While others lurk more quietly in the shadows.

Waiting is a shadow lurker.

In most businesses, waiting creeps quietly in the dark, while slowly sucking out all the efficiency and productivity.

The first problem with the waste of waiting is, honestly, being able to identify it and label it as waste.

It takes so many forms and is often just accepted as the norm.

Maybe it’s waiting for someone to respond to an email (that should have been a call or an in person conversation or a Slack message).

Maybe it’s waiting to get an answer to a question that could have been answered but the authority to make that call hadn’t been granted to the person doing the waiting.

Maybe it’s waiting on one team member to complete a 2 minute task so that the next team member can complete their 30 second task, when the tasks could have been split up more evenly.

Maybe it’s waiting to read through 500 word essay of an email that could have been summed up in a few lines or not sent out to as many people.

Maybe it’s waiting to hear back from a customer because communication and expectations weren’t nailed down clearly in the beginning or there could have been an easier way to stay in touch with the customer.

There is so much more to dig into with waiting, and I’m sure we will on later episodes.

But how can you start to look deeper at the waste of waiting in your organization today?

The first step is to be able to write down all the steps in a particular process, along with a ballpark for how long they take. Don’t skip a step. Catch everything… including the waiting.

Waiting doesn’t like to be named. It likes to stay anonymous.

The more you can identify waiting in your day-to-day, the more you can begin to question if there is a better way.

So start there today. Pick one workflow or process and map it out… including the time estimates.

When you see waiting time, circle it in red. Pin it down. And begin to reduce or eliminate it, one step at a time.

And then channel your inner Tom Petty, look waiting straight in the eye, and tell it “Don’t do me like that!”

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. You can shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com.   Can’t wait to be back with you tomorrow.   I’d love to connect: website / LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter