Entropy is lurking
Yes, I am an engineer by training, and sometimes look to principles of engineering systems for lessons in organizational improvement. One of my favorite classes, believe it or not, was thermodynamics. I found to be an innate beauty and how thermodynamic systems worked.
The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a closed system always increases. Another way to state this, is that the disorder or randomness of a system always increases. The same is true in our organizations and our processes. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can build our processes and work habits to accommodate this fact.
When we fail to recognize this truth, we believe we are designing work for its final state of perfection. The mental model is that as long as everyone follows the process, then everything will be just fine. This is far from the truth!
If our process is perfect today, and everyone continues their job, waste will still increase. Why? There are perhaps many reasons, but none more undeniable than the fact that conditions change. Data changes, regulation changes, customer expectations change, and of course even the people in the organization change. Every one of these changes affects the conditions under which our process was designed for perfection.
How do we combat this? Quite simply, we must never rest. We cannot design a process for perfection, and then leave it alone. We must constantly seek out problems, and search for a new waste. We must constantly experiment, and learn.
The simple reality is that our pace of improvement must move faster than the pace of entropy. You cannot escape the entropy. It might has well be the second wall of process improvement (not that there is a first).
Does your organization recognizes the waste that creeps back into its systems?