The 8 Forms of Lean Waste, Applied to Business: Defects

Engineers in factory reading instructions

Defects are a primary cause of value loss in lean, and are a desirable form of waste to eliminate in business.                                                       

Carroll Elger|
November 14, 2018

In manufacturing, “lean manufacturing” or simply “lean” has become a dominant management philosophy, deciding much of how the manufacturing component of the supply chain is handled to maximize efficiency of resources. Lean focuses on minimizing waste by identifying activities that add value and separating them from those that don’t, emphasizing the elimination of those that don’t.

Due to lean’s success in the manufacturing industry, managers in other industries began to adapt lean to their work, including business managers. Lean management has become a staple of some contemporary offices, modified to fit the white-collar workplace.


A key tenet of lean is the understanding of the “8 Forms of Waste”. Waste, in this context, is defined by as, “any step or action in a process that is not required to complete a process (called “Non Value-Adding”) successfully.”


Ideawake has found that our clients often set innovation challenges for their stakeholders that involve trying to reduce one or more forms of waste. We believe this is an excellent goal to have when using Ideawake so we’re producing this series of posts covering each individual waste and how Ideawake’s innovation management software could potentially be used to address them, particularly in the traditional office business space. The 8 types of waste are as follows:


  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-utilized Talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Extra-processing

These are commonly abbreviated with the acronym DOWNTIME.



What are defects in lean? Defects refers to products or services that are not up to the acceptable standards of the party who requires them. Defects cause waste as they require additional resources beyond just that of production to fix or replace them, not adding value to the business.


Defects in manufacturing are as they sound, products that have been produced with errors that make them unsatisfactory to customers. These errors could affect several resources, such as time to rework the product to satisfaction, extra materials needed to reduce the product, or a completely defective product that results in total loss of the production materials and time. With Ideawake’s platform, a manager might create a challenge prompting workers to address a specific defect that’s commonly encountered, and use their specific knowledge to collaborate on an innovative solution.


In business, defects might be better labelled as “errors”. Errors in producing reports, marketing materials, communications all would be considered defects in lean as they would all require additional resources be used to correct. Although human error is natural and to be expected, processes can always be put into place or improved to reduce the chance of errors occuring.


Given that individual errors can be hard to quantify and are typically remedied before management evaluates the work, challenging employees to innovate around reducing errors is an ideal use of Ideawake’s idea management software. We have seen the employees of our clients innovate multiple solutions to reduce errors, including:


  • New types of automation for repeated work
  • Consolidating redundant work across siloed departments
  • Standardizing processes for repeated work


The potential to limit waste by reducing defects/errors is practically unlimited, and finding the areas to reduce defects is an efficient process itself when using Ideawake’s idea management software. If you’re interested in learning more about innovation management and strategy how Ideawake can help your company’s lean efforts, click here to book a demo today.


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