Thinking lean: Removing waste to seek change

“Everybody say you strange and that you changed, like you worked that hard to stay the same” - JAY Z

Sometimes, I feel like I'm running in circles. There’s so much that I want to do, yet there is NEVER enough time to accomplish it all. One thing I’ve learned during my brief stint with Lean Six Sigma is the importance of adopting “lean” thinking. Lean is the ability to identify areas of waste to improve efficiency, quality, and satisfaction, while reducing time, cost, and effort. The methodology seeks to remove process steps that do not add value to the overall goals of the operation while improving customer satisfaction.


While traditionally used in manufacturing as a way to remove barriers to production, there are a number of ways to apply the concepts to create sustainable individual action plans (we’ll talk more about those later..). Since we’re all walking, talking, and breathing business units, lean allows you to begin looking at behaviors and practices that could be barriers to overall success of you as a business, man. Waste are the non-value added activities that consume time and money with no solid return on investment.


Within the framework, there are 8 types of waste that are proven non-value added activities that increase time and expenses without contributing to results. The 8 types of waste include transportation, inventory, motion, underutilization of intellectual assets, waiting, overproduction, overprocessing, and defects. I’ll only focus on a few in this post as a starting point during the end of year reflection period. The first step is realizing that not everyone and everything is a value add and can be an exhausting thing that is “nice to do”.


[ 1 ] Waiting

Waiting is the unproductive time spent until we are able to take action. It’s the time we waste waiting until everything is perfect before we move to the next step or simply, making excuses. Instead of being reactive, my mentors have always advised me to be proactive on the things that matter most. For example, you don’t have to wait until you’re making $100k to create a savings plan or start paying back student loans (read more about creating a savings plan here. student loans coming soon.)


[ 2 ] Inventory

Inventory is the excess of what you actually need to learn and grow. Do you have piles of clothes that you are no longer wearing? Do you have a few evenings a week with nothing to do? Use the excess time, clothing, or money to help others. Donate clothing to a local homeless shelter. Use your excess time to make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate through volunteering. Through community involvement, you’re able to be the change you seek, while contributing to your own development  through leadership  and networking opportunities.  





 [ 3 ] Motion

Motion is the unnecessary physical and mental steps that we take to accomplish a goal. Earlier I mentioned that I’m running around in circles, both figuratively and literally. Without taking a step back to visualize where I’m going and how I plan to get there, I’ll continue to encounter motion waste without any viable result. Most times, I’m running in circles out of the fear of saying no and disappointing others. As Jay Z mentioned, it’s worth appearing strange because you’ve stopped “going thru the motions” in pursuit of growth.


 [ 4 ] Overprocessing

For me, over processing is the time I spend over thinking every single decision or possibility. While it’s important to conduct and do your due diligence before making a decision, there’s time when it is not necessary and this may cause unnecessary stress. Without clear direction or communication, I tend to put more thought into situations than what is required to achieve my goals. There is a such thing as “overpreparing” when the situation does not require it because it is simply a “waste” of time.

Look out for an overview of the remaining 4 elements of waste such as overproduction, transportation, underutilization of intellectual assets, and defects in Part 2. In the meantime, how can you optimize current resources to improve your personal efficiency  (i.e. using what you already have to achieve your short and long-term goals)? I recommend completing our personal SWOT analysis if you haven't already!