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What is your MUDA? Get rid of the waste in your organization.

Advisory Practice Leader & Associate VP, HNI

I was scanning the morning headlines hoping for something to catch my eye and BAM! There it was.  The title read: 10 brands you know that will disappear in 2012”.  All of the names on this list are household names.  Some have been 1217806 waste basket    1 resized 600fixtures in the US for over 100 years!  How could this happen?  Certainly, there would be a multitude of reasons for failure.  Could we find ways to control success, our brand and perpetuation in our own firms?

During the past 25 years, I have been lucky enough to see the inner workings of thousands of organizations. The sights of sparks flying, wheels turning, workers in motion and buildings rising from the ground fill my mind. Of these varied businesses, I tried to think of commonalities for success and kept coming back to one common denominator for success or failure – waste (or lack thereof). From workers intentionally sabotaging work stations to avoid work to working too fast at the expense of quality to excessive breaks, I feel like I could write a book on workplace waste alone.

One interesting concept related to waste comes from Shigeo Shingo, one of the world’s leading experts in manufacturing process and the Toyota Production System developer.  The seven indicators of waste (Muda in Japanese) according to Shingo are easily remembered by the following acronym: TIM WOOD

TTransportation – Moving things too often or unnecessarily?

I – Inventory – Do we have too much on hand or not enough?

M- Movement – How are we progressing through our workspace?

W – Waiting – Are we waiting on others to complete tasks?

O – Over production – Producing too much of a good or service that is never sold.

O – Over processing – Working at tasks unnecessarily with no productive end in mind.

D- Defects – Wrong orders, loads, damage, injury, repairs.

Another one I would add to his list is “U” – Unrecognized human potential.  Who can and wants to do more, but we neglect to see it?  This is huge!

In the case of Toyota, producing too many of something that will never be installed in a car is Muda, Moving boxes four times before they are opened is Muda, People waiting for someone else to do something is Muda. As you read this, I’m sure you have already identified Muda in your firm.  Here’s the hard part…Find a way to make a change and enforce that change.  Some will step up and lead, some will resist the change (that’s your human Muda).  Education and understanding of your workforce in this process will be crucial!

Organizations must change, adapt and evolve in order to survive.  Will your workforce rise up, collaborate and make crucial changes to reduce waste in your workplace without your guidance?  Or, will we, as leaders need to identify these areas of waste, track them, reduce them or even eliminate them from our workspace? If not now, when?

In closing, a final word from Shingo:

 “Are you too busy for improvement? Frequently, I am rebuffed by people who say they are too busy and have no time for such activities. I make it a point to respond by telling people, look, you’ll stop being busy either when you die or when the company goes bankrupt.”

Topics: Construction Transportation Manufacturing