Communication Quality

Rooting Out Waste

Increasingly, our consulting practice is about rooting out waste and finding innovative new ways to deliver an end result. The generic name for this work is process improvement.

Our journey to develop our own methodology for this has been a long and challenging one. We were committed to beat the odds against successful change. National data confirms that 2/3 of major change efforts fail.

What got us on the path was the chilling statement from W. Edwards Deming that he had never found less than 20% waste in any process he encountered. My first thought, “wow”. Deming defined waste as any effort, expense, step in a process that does not add value to the product from the point of view of the customer. Any of us examining our daily life or life in our organizations, would be hard pressed to find that every effort meets this test.

Over the years, our experience with waste is that it averages 30-50%. It is rework, it is duplication, it is poor quality, it is waiting for a decision or result.

How to root out waste? Ask those doing the work to identify the waste, and they will. But, the key here is that they must win from doing so. If you ask them to find the waste and they sense that it will lead to them losing their job, their survival needs will prevail, and waste will remain. Show them that no waste can mean not just greater productivity, but also prosperity for themselves, and they will root it out when given the tools to do so.

And, they love the journey. The basis of morale is productivity, and waste gets in the way. One word of caution, however, the waste may well be in the decision making or lack thereof of management. Give employees the license to tell you so and be prepared to act on it rather than punish the messenger.

As always, I’m interested in your questions and experience with all of this, please e-mail us.

Bill Dann