Where’s the systematic, in your systematic waste elimination?

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 01-05-11

Waste elimination has often been a central tenant in lean transformation. However, leave is not all about waste, as I wrote about on The Lean Edge recently. if you are going to focus on waste, then certainly the go almost be the reduction, and ultimately, the elimination of the waste that exists in your organization. Good intentions never get the job done. Systems or mechanisms must exist to help associates at all levels of the organization find, surface, and eliminate waste.

Do you have a system for how people go about eliminating waste?


A system does not have to be complicated. For example, if you put a whiteboard in the corner of the office and have people write waste they see or problems they experience to be dealt later, then this would qualify as a system. So would building an iPhone app that integrates with your online waste elimination management tool. There is no one right system. You should experiment and build what works for you. Understand the work environment, the culture, the resources, and the constraints, and that will give you a good idea of what might fit best for you.

A good test for yourself is to ask employees what they do when they find waste. If they do not have any answer, or lack a consistent answer, you are probably missing the systematic part of systematic waste elimination.

Recently, Matt Wrye also wrote a blog post about our teachings on this point.

What systems have you found to be effective in supporting waste elimination in your organization?

[ Editorial note: this picture is of a statue in the park near Lake Zürich, Switzerland, which I took a few years ago. It represents nothing more than the mechanical age, but came to mind for myself as I was writing about building systems.]