The Seven deadly wastes come across our mind just about everyday. We can see Transportation on every street corner in Logistics, we witness waiting every time a community printer spits out 5 different pages and Defects in manufacturing become very obvious when the re-work has standard routings for repair operations, But how often do we stop and think about the Move, Wait or Queue of information flowing through your organization.
70% of all the waste found can typically be found in an office environment, but where do you look when you are discovering the office Waste? Well let's jump into this really quick with the hopes that today in your office you can discover new opportunities to move the bar up a little More.
First Let's start by clearly identifying the need to look with very narrow eyes when identifying Information waste. It is not uncommon for there to be no tangible evidence of the form of waste visible so that requires us to do some digging. Often times by going to the Gemba or following a Process from start to finish you can identify many points in the process where the Flow of Information Bottlenecks. Be aware to,that information waste does not always come from the Origin of Muda but often times will include the Origins of Mura and Muri; as with any other Gemba walk, be respectful and humble when walking informative process lines. So what do we want to look for?
Although we are looking for Information waste, the elements will be no different then Material waste. Information must be transported from one place to another and it is quite often placed in excessive inventory points like E-mails waiting to be read, notepads or excel sheets stashed on computers. Don't forget that any time information is transferred and the action can not be completed due to inaccurate information or information that was not be included it is very likely that you will see the wastes of Overprocessing and Defects following close behind.
Signs of Stress
Now let's admit, we don't always know how much everyone has on their plate or what they are dealing with on a daily basis, that doesn't mean you need to run out and become a therapist but if you find that someone is saying things like "I've got to run my email is full" or you see a worker plowing away through lunch and breaks there is a good possibility that they are both a hard worker and they are experiencing what we know as Overburden, It won't be long before the gas runs dry. This is a great opportunity to see just how much is being placed in other people's lap there may be opportunities for some load leveling or balancing of the line, nevertheless these always working always rushing moments are often a sign that some origin of waste is creeping behind the rushing actions.
How long does the Value-added activity take?
Value added activities are the element of Work that we do that Transforms the activity being completed. This applies to Information flow too. if you look deep enough you will come to understand that there are some information; may be services that a customer is willing to pay for. You will also see that Information can be Transformed too. One example would be looking at the Inputs of a process and asking "Is the Information that's going in Transforming this point of the Value stream?" When we actually see that often times cutting the PO, sending the email, or having a conversation doesn't take that long we discover that the added time usually lurks in the realm of Non-Value. This is a good opportunity to take a look at the Information going in to the value added activity and what it is producing or the Output.
These are only a few key elements to finding and discovering opportunities to Transform processes by attacking information; Some other ways may require analyzation of ERP/MRP systems, evaluating what metrics are driving and searching through word documents, excel sheets and powerpoint presentations and every other network drive or connection you can imagine, the point is attacking Information flow will yield hidden gold and provide many opportunities for Kaizen.