So, there is something that drives me crazy. I’ll admit it.
It’s when I’m doing something in the kitchen and I find myself getting back to the counter from the fridge only to realize that I forgot to grab something when I was there.
So I go back to the fridge, get the thing, and then get back to the counter and shake my head because I also forgot that other thing from the pantry right next to the fridge.
So, it’s back to the pantry, back to the counter, back to the fridge… on and on.
I think it’s the inefficiency that kills me. The thought that I just wasted that time and movement when I could have cut out some steps.
And the same thing happens every day in businesses across the world.
Today, we’re going to look at the Waste of Excess Motion.
In episode 13, we introduced the concept of the 8 Wastes, a Lean Manufacturing idea that splits up the different kinds of wastes in our organizations into eight specific areas.
The waste of motion is a biggie because when your processes are causing your people to move more than they need to to accomplish a task, not only is it taking extra time but it’s also sometimes taking up more floor space and adding excess movement as well.
Each of those ultimately take small bites out of your productivity that add up over time and attack your bottom line.
So, what are some ways you can start to reduce this waste of motion?
Before I answer, let me say that there are both physical applications to this as well as electronic.
Let’s start with the physical.
Take a look at a physical workspace or process in your business. Think about anywhere where people have to move in some way to accomplish a task.
Maybe you have people manually assembling parts. Look at the layout of their work center and see if there is a way you could rearrange their machines or their stations to cut down on their motion. Could you move things closer or change the order of operations to help them be able to batch more of their movements?
Or maybe there are processes in your organization that require you or someone else to walk farther than is needed. Could you rearrange office layouts or change procedures to eliminate the need to deliver papers around? Could a call or slack message take the place of an in-person visit? What if your team member could take better pictures or visually communicate an issue to save a meeting or visit?
Now think about your own physical office and desk. Could you rearrange files or items on your desk to reduce your motion? Could you move those post-its or pens, your files or reference sheets?
And finally (and we may certainly revisit this one later), what about your computer. Your desktop, file system, email folders and emails? We may only be talking about your mouse moving and clicking and not so much physical movement, but there could honestly be more wasted here than anywhere. Hunting for files or emails. Excess clicks or moves because structure could be improved. More automation and intuitive files like… you know… your Excel files (shawnwashburn.com/excel).
If you don’t do anything else today related to all of this, at least try to put on your “wasted motion” glasses and let yourself see everyday activities in this new light.
Then make it a goal to try to attack just one area this week. Then one next week. Etc. And you’ll start to see that you’ll gain momentum and see some really improvements in your productivity and efficiency.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode. You can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What do you think of when you hear the word waste?
There are certainly a bunch of different images that could come to mind. For whatever reason, for me, the image of food on a plate that wasn’t finished seems to come to the surface.
Maybe that’s because as kids it was ironed into us that we better finish everything on our plates so that we don’t waste food.
And then as parents we grab that baton and continue the tradition with our own kids.
It could be the kid who asks for a huge serving and then barely touches it. Or the one who is battling to the end to win the fight against the evil broccoli cheddar soup… remind me to tell that story one day.
There’s really only one food that I’m OK wasting. Liver.
Yep, that slimy, foul-smelling cooked organ… that somehow my father-in-law loved. I’ve never understood that.
But for anyone else, if I served that onto your plate you are more than welcome to immediately walk over and scrape it into the garbage. Yuck. Even mentioning the word makes my stomach churn.
There are, of course, lots of other images that come to mind when we think of waste. I’m sure you can think of several within your business that you could list off right now.
And when we’re talking about work, elimination of waste truly is at the heart of becoming more efficient and doing more with what you have.
In the manufacturing world, there is a popular system of thinking known as Lean Manufacturing. There is a lot to it (and we’ll be digging into many of the aspects of it in future episodes), but at its heart is the concept of seeking to eliminate waste… in all of its forms.
Now, it’s that last part that has been interesting to me, working to implement Lean Manufacturing concepts for years. Because in manufacturing they have identified eight main areas of waste.
Each business is different and yours will be different from so many others.
But digging into these eight types is an exercise that will uncover waste that you didn’t even know existed. Waste that you wouldn’t have even classified as waste.
So, here are the eight types of waste:
– Defects (product or service that doesn’t meet customer expectations)
– Overproduction (making more than customer demand)
– Waiting (could be in a process or anywhere)
– Unused Talent (so much untapped potential here)
– Transportation (moving products unnecesarily)
– Motion (unecessary movement by people)
– Inventory (excess that isn’t processed)
– Extra Processing (more work or higher quality than needed)
We’ll go deeper into these later, but each is a way to help you look at your business with a different lens and spot the wastes hiding in the shadows. So often, the issue is maybe just misindentification. Waste that went undetected or was seen as necessary or just the way things are.
One warning about Lean thinking and implementation: it is not for the faint of heart. If you really want to dig into these ideas and let them bring change to your company, toes will be stepped on, feelings possibly hurt, long-held ideas and systems challenged.
But in the end, you’ll be better for it and can become more trimmed down and able to withstand the storms and grow in the process.
As for withstanding a plate of liver…. that might take a much bigger effort. Good luck with that one.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode.
I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow
Some words just cost more than others. And “should” is one of the most expensive because almost everywhere it’s used you’ll find waste and loss of time and money. Everywhere you find “should” in communication this week, take a deeper dive. You’ll find a world of opportunity there to close gaps and make things better.
“What happened last night?” I asked him as we both stared at the cage of scrap parts from the night before.
“They didn’t change over to the right setup,” he replied.
“Do… you know why?” I asked as my mind was trying to dig deeper into the dilemma.
“No. They should have known it was the wrong setup for that job,” came the reply
“Did they have the right information?” I asked.
“They should have been able to look it up in the book,” he said.
“What I don’t understand,” I interjected “is why this didn’t get caught in the initial quality check. They should have noticed it there.”
Should… is an expensive word.
I’ve found that whenever “should” shows up in a conversation, somewhere there was a gap in a process, documentation or communication. Somewhere, the ball was dropped.
Should is so intriguing. If it could be converted over to a percentage, it would be something like 95%.
Like, It’s almost 100%, but not quite. It’s almost a done deal, but not guaranteed. You can almost take it to the bank, but it’s still risky.
Should is like a foundation with a crack. It looks strong but you’re not entirely sure you can trust it.
Imagine jumping out of an airplane. “Will my parachute work?” you ask. “It… should”
Doesn’t give you a lot of confidence does it?
It’s confusing because when it is used, the intention is actually to convey something sure and dependable.
And yet, in reality, that 95% might as well be 5%.
I’d venture to say that Should… should have a warning label.
“Warning: when using this word, understand that you are almost certainly guaranteeing a failure at some point”
It’s a dangerous word to throw around.
But, if you’re observant, it can be one that can help you hone in on potential issues in your business.
Try this exercise. For the next week, look for any shoulds that you come in contact with in your own conversations or with others. And then do some investigative or follow-up work. Whenever someone has used the word, dig deeper. If it’s used before an event (“I should be able to get that done”), challenge the user to solidify their goal or see if there is a reason why they aren’t more confident in it.
If it is used after an event (“they should have known that we agreed on that”), consider pulling all parties together to figure out where the gap occurred (if it did) and what needs to happen to make things more clear. Maybe it’s instructions that need to be clarified or someone was left off an email chain or was outside the loop in some way. Or maybe the main person in the area was out and their fill-in wasn’t aware of some tribal knowledge.
Should is expensive. And Should can be dangerous.
But should is also an opportunity, both to teach and to find those leaks in the boat and shore them up.
Well, that should be about it on this topic.