All posts by Carroll Elger

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

Four person business team walking through a brightly lit hallway
Even in the digital era, physical movement can create waste in the office or manufacturing floor.
Carroll Elger|
December 13, 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 goleansixsigma.com 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. 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

 

Transportation

In manufacturing, transportation waste refers to taking a product and moving it elsewhere, whether that be for further development, review, or other functions. Transportation waste itself only refers to the resources used in the physical act of moving the product. This waste is created by the extra time used in moving the product, or the improper assignment of labor to moving tasks.

 

Manufacturing processes that aren’t maximized for efficiency will most often create transportation waste. This is particularly concerning, as a process that creates waste will ensure that this waste occurs each time the process does. Manufacturing process should be designed so products move in as linear a path as possible, in accordance with what the manufacturing floor space allows. When a product’s path overlaps, or workers are frequently moving across large areas of the floor and back, transportation waste is likely occurring. Transportation waste can also occur as a result of improper employee training. Employees with incomplete knowledge of all process in their unit can waste resources by moving products to the wrong area or at the wrong time.

 

Now that we’re fully invested in a paperless, digital age, transportation waste has declined in importance of the wastes to address in a traditional business setting. Employees have less reason to move around the office space than ever, but transportation waste can still occur. The biggest culprit of transportation waste in an office is in the office design itself, much like in manufacturing. Employees should have easy access to common areas like the bathrooms and kitchen, avoiding siloing off certain departments or teams resulting in some employees suffering more waste than others. As face-to-face collaboration among employees is being revisited in the digital era, it should be considered with transportation waste in mind. Departments or teams that engage in frequent collaboration should be placed as close together in the office space as possible.

 

It is also possible to view non-physical interactions as an adaptation of lean’s classification of transportation waste for the digital era. Checking email is one of the most time-consuming tasks in an office worker’s day. Regularly sending emails to individuals who don’t need the contents, or failing to establish exactly who needs the information in an email and creating a long email chain could be considered modern forms of transportation waste. This type of activity could be contributing to waiting waste, as covered in a previous post.

Employees themselves have by far the most insight into how much transportation waste occurs in the office they work in. For this reason, an open-innovation idea management platform like Ideawake is ideal for finding solutions to transportation waste from those closest to the issue, your most valuable resource, employees. Employees are highly aware of their own excessive movement, but often feel as though they don’t have enough influence for change. A platform like Ideawake allows for other employees to upvote and offer constructive feedback on the ideas for change single employees might have. This type of empowerment of one idea means that their voice is heard, and collaboration around the idea means that a potential solution to transportation waste can be developed to the point of implementation. If you’re interested in learning more about how Ideawake is able to drive corporate innovation that reduces waste, click here to book a demo today.

The 8 Forms of Lean Waste, Applied to Business: Non-Utilized Talent

young businesswoman looking frustratedly at her laptop
The whole of a business suffers when employees aren't given a chance to use their full scope of ability.
Carroll Elger|
December 6, 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.

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

Four businesspeople waiting to get their work done
The lean waste "Waiting" is a commonly-seen problem in corporate environments.
Carroll Elger|
November 30, 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.

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

Wasting resources with too much communication
Overproduction is more common in a traditional business setting than commonly acknowledged.
Carroll Elger|
November 26, 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.

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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.

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Why You Can’t Afford to Wait Until 2019 to Start an Innovation Program

The workforce of the 21st century has a renewed interest in a holistic workplace experience that provides for personal and professional fulfillment.
Carroll Elger|
October 4, 2018

We get it; you’re busy. It’s the era of people having busy weeks instead of days, calendars filled out months in advance as business moves faster and faster indefinitely.

 

However, with this rapid pace of change, there are new trends and disruptions headed towards your company that will cost your company if you don’t address them now.

 

Right now, every industry is facing technology disruptors, major innovations to how business is done that will result in huge losses if your company isn’t prepared. The transportation industry was most famously disrupted by ridesharing tech, but many industries, hospitality, entertainment, legal, are all facing disrupting trends.

 

To keep your company in the disruptors instead of the disrupted, you have to start building a formal innovation program, with the ultimate goal of fostering a Culture of Innovation at your firm, a change in the mindset of the whole organization.

 

Not taking action on innovation will cost you in a multitude of ways; below are the details of why your company needs to implement an innovation program ASAP.  

 

A Culture of Innovation can protect against disruptions- and possibly make you the disruptor

 

The threat of disruption across many industries is real, and has already happened. According to Harvard Business Review, from the 2000 list over 50% of the Fortune 500 companies went bankrupt or no longer exist today. While historically the Fortune 500 sees regular change from year to year, that much failure in just under 20 years is unprecedented. Digital technologies cause more potent disruption than has ever been possible, and they do so at a rate that established companies often just can’t keep up with once it’s begun.

 

The issue is that companies are waiting until the disruptions start affecting them to take action- at that point, it’s too late. Technology has spiked the rate of dissemination to previously unthinkable levels, for instance techworm.net notes that while the invention of the TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users, the smartphone game Angry Birds took just 35 days to reach that same number. Even adjusting for factors like cost of acquisition, that number shows clearly that technology has pushed the rate of change to levels that even small-to-medium sized companies can’t react quickly too.

 

With this knowledge, how can a company prepare? If reaction is no longer enough, proactivity becomes essential. This is where an innovation program perfectly fits in, with the ultimate goal of building a thriving Culture of Innovation.

 

We emphasize that what you want is an innovation program, and not just general innovation. An innovation program is a comprehensive plan, in which decision makers have identified a strategy to boost innovative thinking in the company that management can deliver through a unified, consistent effort. Researchers Forrester state in an article on innovation management that “…without operational changes and an open working culture, no agile innovation is possible in the age of the customer. Innovation culture must cross organizational structures and promote multidisciplinary collaboration”. Unstructured innovation efforts cannot deliver innovative ideas without either incurring negative ROI because unstructured efforts use resources inefficiently, or producing only raw ideas around innovation that have to set way to be developed.

 

A structured innovation program can efficiently drive valuable corporate innovation. A proper innovation program will have a set timeline, a goal-oriented strategy from leadership, a process to develop ideas once their recognized, and more in place. This plan ensures that all innovative ideas are captured, vetted, and developed, all leading to a position in which they can be implemented in the business.

 

With a well-planned program in place, you’re on the way to insulating your company from the costs of disruption through innovation. To build a Culture of Innovation and ensure you’re perpetually prepared for disruption, however, you need to address another issue that’s costing your business; the new, unaddressed needs of employees that keep them from engaging in your innovation program, and your business as a whole.

 

The power of keeping employees engaged at work

 

This likely comes as no surprise to you, but it’s worthwhile repeating; unengaged employees seriously hurt a company’s bottom line through diminished productivity. Gallup’s most recent polling shows troubling numbers regarding America’s workforce engagement: only about 33% are engaged, 51% are not engaged at work, and most troubling, 16% of employees are actively disengaged, meaning they’re “…miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build”. The same research shows 51% of employees searching for new jobs or monitoring listings. These numbers are already concerning, but the resulting cost of this disengagement is downright eye-opening. Using Officevibe’s Employee Engagement ROI calculator, we can determine that in a 500-person company with average salary and turnover, employee disengagement will cost over $5mil annually through diminished productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and onboarding costs. You can calculate this number using your company’s metrics here (note: the calculator shows current losses as potential savings).

These sizeable costs, combined with the uncaptured innovation in disengaged employees, makes for a situation in which inaction becomes negative action.

 

Many companies are already aware of the harm of disengaged employees, and have tried to address the problem. This has mostly meant throwing money at the problem in the form of raises, employees bonuses, and “perks” at work. Unfortunately, this approach has lost its efficacy as the contemporary worker now seeks more intangible benefits at work as opposed to further monetary compensation.

 

The workforce of the 21st century has a renewed interest in a holistic workplace experience that provides for personal and professional fulfillment. Employees want to feel the impact of their work, get real-time feedback and recognition, learn skills outside of their area, and gain access to new technologies that transform the way they work.

 

In order to have an innovation program that really works, employees need to feel that some or all of these needs are being addressed or they won’t interact with the program meaningful way. When crafting strategy for the program, management must employ tactics that sincerely attempt to address these needs. For example, at Ideawake we build programs that teach employees to be entrepreneurs and think about their job function from a fresh, insightful perspective.

 

With employees needs addressed, they’re in a perfect position to be engaged at work and fully commit to participation in an innovation program, which when repeated with new goals, should result in a Culture of Innovation starting to develop at your firm.

 

The takeaway from avoiding the costs of disruption and disengagement shouldn’t be that it’s easy to do so with an innovation program, nor that it’s especially difficult. This post has laid out the factors you should account for when considering how failing to innovate costs you, and none of them are relatively complex; activities like recognizing employees, establishing goals for innovation, and sticking to a timeline aren’t hard to grasp. They can become difficult, however, if management does not examine the results of these activities and respond to feedback on the program. A great Culture of Innovation can quickly dissolve if leadership forgets that a program designed to respond to rapid change doesn’t change itself.

7 Common Objections Decision Makers Have Around Idea Management Software, and How to Overcome Them

Ideawake understands the root of these objections and have outlined the explanation you need to overcome them and ease leaders’ concerns.
Carroll Elger|
September 27, 2018

When looking to introduce a new Innovation or Idea Management program, one of the most frequent challenges can be building out and selling the business case to decision makers within a firm. Objections from these individuals can be numerous, but we at Ideawake understand the root of these objections and have outlined the explanation you need to overcome them and ease leaders’ concerns.

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Best Promotional Strategies to Maximize Employee Engagement with an Idea Management Platform

Ideawake sees high engagement rates consistently by combining strategies with expert assistance from our team in building a plan for your business.
Carroll Elger|
September 5, 2018

If you’ve launched an Idea Management program in your company, you’re on the cusp of using a powerful business tool to dramatically increase innovation within your firm. An Idea Management program is the ideal way to tap into the power of your most valuable asset, your employees.

 

However, if employees aren’t engaging with your Idea Management program, you likely won’t maximize your potential returns.

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