Lean Waste Reduction Strategies and Real-Life Examples

Ecologists and other environmentally aware people often talk about the goal of "Zero Waste." But, of course, that's an outstanding goal for business as well.

Reducing waste is at the heart of the Lean business methodology. The purpose of Lean is to spend more of your time creating value for customers by reducing or eliminating everything that does not produce value (AKA the waste). Value can take the form of finished goods, services, or information. To make it easier to identify waste in business processes, Lean practitioners target eight specific types of waste.

Although the Lean approach originated in manufacturing, it is used in almost every sector. Strikingly the eight wastes are common across industries, including software development, construction, healthcare, and education. Although it is not as apparent as it may be on a factory floor, the set of tasks and activities performed in any sector creates a production process that ultimately provides value to a customer.

While some of the wastes are self-explanatory, others are more difficult to recognize. This post aims to help by giving a few examples of each type of waste in various businesses. Hopefully, they will help you think about how waste may be occurring in your operations and how to begin designing processes that minimize it. Of course, the people who are most likely to find and correct waste are the process operators, so it is a good idea to share these examples with them and provide a way for each employee to submit opportunities for improvement.

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