Well That’s Just Clever
One of the most important skills to learn in Lean is being able to identify value from waste. Lean relies on waste reduction as a matter of progression and improvement. No matter what type of business or organization you are, if you can’t tell them apart, your chances of continuous improvement are slim.
Muda- Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; idleness; superfluity; waste; wastage; wastefulness.”
Whether you use them or not, mnemonics have had big role in lean cultures. They attempt to classify waste into specific categories that allow one to quickly decipher waste from value. The idea is that if you can identify waste as you see it, then you increase your chances to reduce or eliminate it, creating a continuous flow of improvement. Now whether or not mnemonics or simply categorizing waste into categories is the most effective way of eliminating waste can be debated, but the fact is they exist.
Over the years several different mnemonics have been used in different lean environments to discuss waste. A common theme in lean communities has been to work smarter not harder. So it would make sense to have different organizations using different mnemonics that fit their niche. Here is a sample of the ones I have found, starting with the most common; TIMWOOD.
Mnemonic (m is silent)– Aimed to translate information into a form that the human brain can retain better than its original form or any learning technique that aids information retention.
- Idle Inventory
- Not embracing change (waste of intellect)
- Excess Processing
Categorizing waste is a starting point, not an end result
While I agree that mnemonics can be a bit cliche and overused at times, they can be a useful tool when identifying waste. There’s the argument that putting waste into specific categories is bad practice, but everyone is different and proper training can make all the difference in your lean practices. When implementing or teaching lean it is vital that you make it clear; anything that is not adding value is waste.
It is important not to get bogged down as to which one is the best or which one is easiest to remember, however it is important to understand what a true source of waste is and what it takes to eliminate it.
- Value-Added vs. Non-Value-Added Activities– creativesafetysupply.com
- Waste 101– kaizen-news.com
- DOWNTIME = Waste– 5snews.com
- How Does Flow Minimize Waste in Production– blog.creativesafetysupply.com
- Key Concepts of Lean Manufacturing– iecieeechallenge.org
- Changeover – Creating Flow and Eliminating Waste– blog.5stoday.com
- Safety in the Workplace and 5S– hiplogic.com
- Lean Manufacturing: Streamlining Operations for Optimal Efficiency– realsafety.org
- Understanding Kaizen: A Path to Continuous Improvement– creativesafetypublishing.com