Knowlton Project Support

Waste Goggles – are you wearing yours?

In these times of austerity, it seems to me that some business leaders in the service sector who favour ‘slash and burn’ cost cutting measures are short sighted and would do well to reach for a set of Waste Goggles first.

Many operational leaders don’t really appreciate what waste (or ‘Muda’ using the Lean jargon) actually looks like, are busy satisfying immediate (urgent and important) customer needs and cannot see the wood for the trees when it comes to improving efficiency.

Enlighten business leaders can spot waste, are Benchmarking thier Lean performance with others and have started their Lean journey. Here are a few examples of office / service sector waste to look out for, maybe you can think of more?

Office Waste Examples

Over Processing

Extra effort which adds no value or enhancements that are transparent to the customer

  • Outdated or redundant approval processes
  • Reports that are not read or have too much information
  • Decision making at inappropriate levels
  • Excessive distribution lists on emails

Defects and errors

Any activity that must be re-done to fulfill customer requirements

  • Extra manpower required to check for errors
  • Missing customer commitments or deadlines
  • Rework
  • Errors made due to insufficient training or unclear procedures

Over Production

Producing more than is needed or duplication of effort

  • Extra photo copies
  • Printing emails or extra documents that are not read
  • Checking and double checking
  • Extra storage space for duplicated copies and files

Waiting and Delays

Idle time that occurs when there are unnecessary delays within the process.

  • People waiting for other people
  • People waiting to use equipment
  • Unbalanced work flow
  • Waiting for an approval, a signature or authorisation

Wasted Movement

Any movement or walking that does not add value for the customer

  • Searching for paperwork
  • Locating lost files
  • Tracking  down and expediting reports
  • Walking to the photo copier or printer


Any movement of documents, people or equipment 

  • Looking for information or supplies
  • Excessive travelling to access daily information
  • Interdependent functions not co located
  • Transporting records or files between functions or departments


Any supplies in excess of customer’s requirements necessary to deliver the service ‘Just in Time’.

  • Piles of documents or work in progress due to unbalanced work flow
  • Wrong kind of supplies in stock or excess resources
  • Multiple stock of the same stationary, individuals hoarding supplies
  • Producing things  ‘just in case’

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