Toyota is one of the world’s most successful companies with 330,000 staff and a value of $193 Billion. Toyota leaders often say that their growth is due to the Toyota Production System which is renowned for its focus on removing any activity that doesn’t add value to the customer.
“All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the time line by reducing the non-value adding wastes.” Taiichi Ohno, Toyota.
Toyota’s method known as Lean Production has spread across the manufacturing industry as companies have realised that they have to adopt it or be left behind.
While Lean Production has been very successful in the factory it has had little impact in the office because office work is not physical.
“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognise” Shigeo Shingo, Toyota
In this series of articles I will translate the ideas of lean production from the physical world of manufacturing to the office world of information so that you can see the waste in your process and learn how to reduce it.
The cause of waste
Wasted time and effort in the factory and the office is ultimately caused by uneven work flow and unreasonable demands. If we streamline our work and make reasonable demands then wasted time and effort will fall.
Offices typically do work in big batches in functional silos on the assumption that this will create economies of scale and specialisation. The problem is that doing work in large batches in specialist groups creates a very uneven workflow which leads to a lot of wasted time and effort.
Types of waste
Uneven workflow and unreasonable demands cause several different types of waste. In the language of the office these wastes are:
- Over production of system features,
- Over engineering (over processing),
- Excess work in progress (inventory),
- Transaction costs (Transport),
- Effort (Motion),
- Delays (Waiting) and
- Rework to fix defects.
In the next post I will examine how over production causes waste in IT.