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7 types of waste..

Examples of everyday waste include when a person is late for a meeting, reworks a process, orders the wrong part or holds excess inventory. All are considered waste.

The Lean community has identified seven types of waste. This is attributed to many sources and likely originated with Taiichi Ohno of Toyota.

  1. Processing

  2. Rework

  3. Waiting

  4. Motion

  5. Over Production

  6. Transportation

  7. Inventory & Storage

With the above list of wastes, it can be easier to categorize waste — even in great processes — and create an action plan to reduce specific waste. Many functions have multiple elements of waste. Remember that waste is not found just in manufacturing (making stuff), but also in service (doing stuff).

Increasingly, it is hard to differentiate a pure producer of goods from a pure producer of services. Companies such as Xerox, GE, IBM and Boeing have famously pivoted from a focus on hardware to one of software and services, while most restaurants, Amazon and even Uber blur the two areas. The Customer experience is the Holy Grail.

Waste is the opposite of value. Ohno defined waste as:

Any activity that consumes resources but creates no value for the Customer. Anything that adds cost without producing a corresponding benefit to the Customer.

— Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System: Beyond Large Scale Production (Productivity Press, March 1, 1988)

Ohno was a leader at Toyota after World War II. One of his responsibilities was to revive the automobile business in Japan. Remember the state of Japan’s manufacturing infrastructure after the war.


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