“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”
According to Taiichi Ohno, the father of lean and one of the forerunners of Lean Manufacturing and was part of the team that developed the Toyota Production System, one of the first steps to becoming lean is to eliminate waste in a process. In 1988, he defined seven types of Muda. An eighth Muda was added later on.
In the office, The Muda of Non-Utilized Talent is considered the hardest to detect among the eight types of waste. It is the most subtle hidden type of waste but by far the most rewarding to eliminate. Recruitment in corporate offices is quite different than that in manufacturing because you are hiring for soft skills. This means there is a high possibility for candidates to go unnoticed or for them be assigned to positions below their skills and qualifications.
The Muda of Non-Utilized Talent in the office can take (but is not limited to) any of the following forms:
- Poor or no incentives
- Insufficient or inadequate training/cross-training/tools to perform tasks
- Deploying new systems or software without prior training
- No personal or professional development opportunities available to employees
- Not engaging employees in planning, organization, and innovation
- Nepotism or favoritism in hiring and recruitment
- Hiring highly paid or overqualified staff for routine tasks
- Overly limiting employees’ authority, responsibility, or input to conduct routine decisions or basic tasks
Start with your recruitment process. Develop it in such a way that you can gauge people’s backgrounds and skills. Create a set of tests or a system that allows you to gather that kind of information about your candidates and how to act accordingly. Make sure to put in place onboarding plans that will allow you to get to know your new hires and their skillsets better.
Management must evaluate and listen to every employee in the organization and invite them to contribute to continuous improvement.