The way many companies work today is highly inefficient and wasteful, and this can be said for organizations of all sizes.
Big and small companies alike seem to have a thing or two that they can learn about the way they can trim the waste from their work, but unfortunately, it looks like the problem often goes deeper than it seems on the surface.
In many cases, leaders don’t even have a good understanding of the concept of waste in the first place, and they end up putting a lot of effort into addressing problems that either isn’t relevant or don’t even exist in the first place.
Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the way people think about these things today is important.
#1. Understanding Waste
Waste does not necessarily refer to anything in the physical sense, although the description does apply to physical waste as well in some cases.
Put simply, waste is any excess that can be trimmed from your workload without compromising its integrity. It can be a very minor detail – like having to take a few extra steps between your workbench and important tools on a regular basis – or it could refer to major issues with your process, such as redundant points in your logistics chain, unnecessary partners, and more.
Of course, anyone who’s handled a company for any length of time can probably tell you that if you go around trying to cut every corner you can, you’ll eventually find yourself going under.
That’s why it’s important to be able to sort your problems and prioritize the ones that have an actual impact on your operations.
#2. Lean Is the Future
Methodologies like lean have sprung up in response to this situation, and they’re a very effective tool for addressing issues of this type.
Keep in mind that lean, Six Sigma, and the various related tools, aren’t simple techniques that can be mastered in a few weeks.
Many people dedicate years of their lives to perfect their knowledge in these fields, and there’s a reason experienced Six Sigma experts can cost six figures or more to hire for your projects.
You don’t have to go all the way – even covering the basics, and understanding the fundamentals behind this way of thinking, is enough to change the way you look at your projects and handle them.
Most importantly, it will help you gain confidence in your ability to correctly identify waste and know how to trim it appropriately.
#3. Productivity Tools Can Change a Lot
You shouldn’t try to do this on your own though. There are many tools out there that can completely transform your operations and learning how to use them and how to integrate them into your workflow can be extremely valuable.
Things like Kanban, Scrum, and other project planning solutions can make it much easier to wrangle large, complex projects, and ensuring that everyone in your organization is on the same page with regards to their use is critical.
In fact, simply having the right Kanban approach can often make a world of a difference in your success rates.
That must start from the top though – so you have to set the right example. Make sure that you take the time to learn every tool relevant to your job in as much detail as possible and know when the time is right to apply each of them in any situation.
Even if you never get to use a specific piece of technology in your actual work, simply knowing that it’s irrelevant to a situation can still be very valuable knowledge that can save you and your team a lot of time.
That’s one way to minimize waste that many people often don’t consider – ensure that you are not spending too much time investigating the wrong ideas.
#4. Is Your Training in Order?
Companies also tend to waste a lot of productivity due to inadequate training. We see it all the time in different ways, although it can sometimes be hard to identify training as the culprit.
Generally speaking, though, employees having to take extra time to repeat instructions that others should already be familiar with is an example of a wasteful approach to training.
In addition, if a new worker has to orient themselves on their own and gather the information relevant to their work piece by piece from different colleagues, this can set back progress for everyone involved.
It’s true that sorting out your training can take some time, especially in a larger organization, but it’s worth every bit of effort in the end.
Knowing that every new employee is able to contribute to the progress of your organization as early as their skills allow them to is a great boost to the overall productivity of the company.
#5. Focus on the Right Feedback
Last but not least, another commonly observed mistake in many organizations is that they spend far too much time (and a large volume of resources) working on problems that don’t really need to be addressed as a priority.
Paying attention to customer feedback is important, but it’s also easy to get confused over which issues are worth investigating in more detail if you’re not experienced enough and don’t have the right tools to handle that.
This comes down to experience on one hand and strong analytical skills on the other. If you feel like you’re lacking in either of those two categories, it might be worth bringing someone on board who can fill those gaps and help you address your company’s issues more efficiently.
And in the end, remember that trimming waste is not something that can be done on a one-off basis. It’s a continuous process that should be tightly integrated into your general workflow, and you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve it.
Companies that understand their waste issues, and invest enough effort into resolving them, are the ones that are able to progress in the steadiest manner in the long run.
It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually a critical component of running your organization that you absolutely cannot afford to ignore.