Which of the Lean Wastes Cause You The Most Pain

In the world of Lean Six Sigma, we aim to remove wastes from processes. Wastes are considered any action or step that does not add value to the customer.

In other words, waste is any process that the customer does not want to pay for. For example, what if your customer peeped into your everyday world and caught a glimpse of all the meetings that you have. Would they consider it valuable work? 

And while we’re at it – do you consider it valuable work? Alright, I digress.

Categorizing the types of wastes that we experience into 8 wastes is a product of the Toyota Production System. They are:

  • Defects
  • Overproduction
  • Waiting
  • Unused talent
  • Transportation
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Excess processing

So, what is the worst waste for your most important customer-facing process? What causes you to miss your customer’s expectations? 

I know I talk about process mapping and documenting all the time. And this time is no exception.

Take some time to document what it takes to deliver your produce or service from the time it is requests to the time it is delivered. Ask yourself, “What is my customer experiencing?”

Are they being bounced around from person to person? This is considered wasted motion. 

Are they waiting a long time for a response?

Is there a strong possibility that they will receive a defective product? 

Do you end up carrying way too much inventory to make sure you can meet your customer’s needs?

There are lots of resources and information sources like videos, books, and digital content about the 8 wastes. I encourage you to do some research of your own. Or better yet, give me a call to discuss further and we can identify which wastes are rearing their ugly head in your business most often.

So, I pose the question once more: Which of the 8 wastes causes you the most pain? I’ll answer the question for my own business.

For starters, the waste I dislike the most is waiting. I cannot stand it. Every time I encounter it as a customer myself, I immediately think about how the company needs to even out its processes, understand timing better, and communicate more clearly with the customer.

Set your customers’ expectations. I’ve changed doctors, hairdressers, and stopped dealing with specific online retailers because of blind waiting and no clear communication.

What waste does your customer wish you would fix? Do you know where and how to start figuring this out? 


Holloways Consulting Group is an Atlanta-based firm helping corporate technology teams all over the world set goals, create plans, and solve complex problems. We aim to service organizations through our training, coaching, and project management programs. Schedule a complimentary discovery call to learn more about how we can help you and your organization.

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