You can apply the concept of 8 wastes in lean manufacturing to your business or project. Here’s how.

The 8 wastes are:

Defects:

You deliver a project that does not meet the client’s expectations.

There are many reasons for defects and to understand why they are occurring, you’d need to do a root cause analysis. You can use a fishbone diagram or the 5-why method to understand possible root causes. I particularly like the fishbone diagram because it examines the broad causes of most defects: people, processes, products and machines.

Image source: freepik

You can get started by drawing on a piece of paper. Examine how flaws in each of the elements I listed can contribute to overall failure. Then see if those gaps actually exist in your operations. The last step is to make plans to close and monitor the observed gaps.

Waiting:

Waiting of any kind shows a lack of planning.  Therefore being proactive is the way to overcome this. Planning the week’s work ahead of Monday or ensuring the inputs needed to be processed are available.  Sometimes, it also means picking up the phone to call the client if they are the ones delaying.

Extra-processing:

Doing more than the client asked for.  This is bad operational practice because no one is buying for this additional work. There are other ways to delight your customers and not overstretch your operations.  Customer pain points are broadly categorized into financial, support, process and productivity.  Look for ways to delight them by easing any of these pain points.

Underutilized talent:

Competencies should match the job. More importantly, encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas within the team.

Transportation:

This is when your in-process material is moving a lot during processing. In the context of project management, It’s having too many meetings (and too many people attending these meetings). Or sending long emails (TLDR) to too many people that have no immediate use for the information you are sharing.

Inventory:

Accumulating resources or materials but not actually processing them.  Having inventory is not bad because you are able to stock against inflation or changes in prices. However, you have to ensure you have a positive cost-benefit ratio.

Motion:

This is when your team spends time searching for the tools they need to get work done. Everybody should know where to find whatever material they need. Keep people and tools in close proximity.

Overproduction

overproduction is a lack of prioritization. There is a demand-supply mismatch. The work you are doing now might be important but might not be urgent.