Systematic Waste Elimination
In any book, article or class on lean, you will hear someone talking about waste. “The purpose of lean,” they will say, “is to eliminate waste.” I don’t believe that is true. First, the purpose of lean is to create a successful and robust business. If companies focus on eliminating the waste in their processes, they will differentiate themselves by being able to provide better quality and delivery at less cost. This particularly comes rue when market pressures increase such as during a recession and the companies that have ignored the waste around them are the companies that end up bankrupt
Second, in many lean efforts waste is talked about but then passed over in favor of preferred tools. If we adopt the principle of systematic waste elimination, we will think and talk in the language of waste and move beyond just memorizing the seven wastes. Then we will see everything our organizations do through that lens.
There are two elements to this principle:
Connect to your customer and always add value. Truly understanding what your external, or paying, customer values and seeking to deliver nothing but, will help avoid waste. Any goal beyond delivering the right product to the right customer at the right time at the right price is waste. Any activity that does not actually change the product being delivered is also waste. Being waste does not mean that something isn’t necessary, but if we don’t treat it as waste we will never seek to reduce, eliminate or avoid it. Organizations must connect all of their resources to the customer in a flow-path designed to deliver value - nothing else. The information required to deliver that value must flow through the same flow-path. You must have clarity of what your customer values and how you are providing it. This includes internal staff functions, which have customers inside the company. Everyone has a customer, which means that everyone must find ways to add value for their customer.