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The 7 Wastes in Your Business – Finding Kaizen Opportunities

As a business, you are either efficient and effective, or you are not. It’s quite likely that there are things in your business environment you’d like to see work more smoothly, more efficiently. There are many reasons for poor processes and less productive business environments ranging from:

  • Lack of clarity on the part of the business leadership and senior management,
  • Performance management system structure and the way people are rewarded,
  • Poorly implemented initiatives, and
  • Business leaders who micro-manage (not letting people under them do their thing and make decisions).

Any one of these can be affecting your process and productivity. One helpful way of looking at process and productivity is in terms of finding Kaizen opportunities. Kaizen refers to a philosophy or practice that focuses on continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, similar ideas. 

When applied to the workplace, Kaizen involves all employees from the CEO to assembly line workers and refers to activities that continually improve all functions. It also applies to processes such as purchasing and logistics, which usually cross organizational boundaries.

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Generally, Kaizen looks at waste in some key categories with Seven Lean Approaches. These include:

  1. Waste of Motion
  2. Waste of Waiting
  3. Waste in Transportation
  4. Waste in Storage
  5. Waste in Defects
  6. Waste in Processing
  7. Waste in Over Production

There are many examples of where the Kaizen approach can be applied from a staff driven perspective. From the manufacturing line of bottle cap disposal, making toast in the kitchen on a train, the health x-ray requisition approval process, to the location of office supplies storage. All these can be streamlined and standardized.

By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen aims to eliminate waste, thereby making your business more productive. And, as the Kaizen approach seeks to improve processes, productivity then is the yardstick by which you can measure your success.

If you can find ways to improve your processes, to become more efficient and effective, you will be more successful in your business.

Question: What work process can you focus on to improve to create better flow and enhance productivity?