“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 Waiting is the interrupted flow of information due to a delay in sharing information or interacting with internal or external stakeholders. Waiting waste means employees are sitting idly unable to continue with a task because they are waiting for a document to be processed and made available. This can be any work received from upstream processes such as information, signatures, or approvals. Waiting waste happens everyday in the office and business systems, causing loss of resources, lower customer satisfaction, and frustration among employees.
The Muda of Waiting in the office can take (but is not limited to) any of the following forms:
- Employees waiting for approvals or signatures
- Waiting for information from the customer
- Waiting for clarification or correction of work received from upper management
- Slow system response time
- Slow computer speed
- Unplanned Downtime (computer, fax, phone…)
- Frequent technology delays/malfunctions
- Bottlenecks and unbalanced workloads
- Attendees late or not present for meetings, scheduling conflicts
- Employees leaving unexpectedly
- Project budget changes and delays
To systematically remove this type of waste from your office, a plethora of solutions or countermeasures can be implemented such as the standardization of instructions, training, and processes; planning and scheduling solutions for optimal synchronization between departments; reviewing and standardizing required signatures to eliminate unnecessary ones; maintenance, update and/or upgrade your systems to be compatible with current trends.