Value-added activities help provide customers the products or services they want.
“Waste,” on the other hand, is any activity that adds cost or time but does not add value for the customer.
Waste is often disguised as useful work.
There are seven types of waste:
- Over Production
- Over Processing
Knowing them, helps us identify and eliminate them when we encounter them. Just by eliminating waste, we can increase the portion of our work that is value added for the customer.
Lean is a systematic and customer-focused approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvement.
When learning to see waste–also known as muda–the most important thing to understand is value from the customer’s perspective. Anything that is not adding value from the customer’s point of view is waste.
Eliminating waste sounds like an obvious thing to do, but waste is often hard to spot in our work processes. No one likes to think that their work is waste. Yet it turns out that most of our work activity is waste. Often our hardest, most frustrating work is waste.
“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.” – Shigeo Shingo
And even when we do recognize it, we may not be able to eliminate it.
Don’t let that keep you from starting. Finding some small examples of waste and eliminating them can start you on the path of continuous improvement. The good news is that since waste is so prevalent, it can be found everywhere. Anyone anywhere can practice Lean by identifying waste.