8 Wastes of LEAN

LEANTo help everyone keep thinking LEAN, we are examining the 8 Wastes of LEAN and what we can do to help eliminate them from our daily routines.



Whenever there is a mistake that requires additional time, resources or money to fix, we are seeing the waste of defects and rework first hand. This type of waste can include everything from redoing paper work due, to errors, to refabricating materials due to design changes.

To help eliminate defects and rework from your daily routine, make sure you have a full understanding of all work requirements and customer needs before starting the task. Simple job aids, such as checklists and standardized work plans, can make a big difference as well.



Overproduction occurs when too much of something is produced or completed, or when it’s produced too soon and then must be stored. This can be a result of unclear customer needs, poorly applied automation, and just-in-case production—producing materials just in case they are needed.

To eliminate overproduction from your daily routine, focus on:

  • Producing materials just in time (JIT) instead of just in case.
  • Implementing procedures for every process and task you complete.
  • Keeping processes flowing to prevent bottlenecks.



Waiting occurs whenever work has to stop for some reason—whether it’s because something is broken, you’re waiting on a response, or you’ve run out of something. In some cases, a bottleneck, or a point of decreased efficiency, can be slowing down information and materials.

To identify waiting in your daily routine, look for these common examples and look for ideas that can help reduce this waste:

  • Delays in receiving information.
  • Waiting for an approval or response.
  • Others are not on time.


Not Using Talent

Underutilization of talent is often referred to as the worst form of waste. As a LEAN company, we recognize that our employees are our most valuable asset. We must recognize and efficiently utilize our team’s skills and knowledge when developing our processes. Moreover, a LEAN organization also looks past its team as labor only, and recognizes them as true process experts and involves them in finding solutions and opportunities to improve our processes.

The most effective way to eliminate this waste is to share your ideas with others on your team and then submit them to the My Good Idea program so your ideas can be shared and put to use across the company.



The most efficient way to do any task is to have materials and tools where they’re needed. However, having too many tools around can create problems for ourselves and our customers, who could think we have too much material on the floor. We need to focus on finding better ways to store, handle and manage materials to prevent having to move them multiple times.

To identify unnecessary transportation in your daily routine, ask yourself:

  • Am I doing any excessive or unnecessary handling?
  • Are there any unnecessary steps in the process?



Having excess materials around causes us to “treasure hunt,” or stop what we’re doing to look for something we need. Additionally, stored material is at risk to expired or be damaged or lost. This is even common in the office, especially when looking for digital files. By organizing information and materials as they come in, we can reduce the number of treasure hunts we go on and be more productive overall.

You can use four of the 5S of LEAN to eliminate inventory wastes from your daily routine:

  • SORT – Determine which items are needed and which are not and eliminate the latter.
  • STRAIGHTEN – Keep needed items in the correct place so you can quickly and easily find them.
  • SHINE – Keep your workspace neat and clean.
  • STANDARDIZE – Create a plan to make Sort, Straighten and Shine everyday habits.



Waste of motion applies to any time spent moving around instead of doing value-added work. This can include walking across the site to find tools, having to search your computer for a piece of information, or having to sort and store just-in-case materials.

One effective way to eliminate the waste of motion is to implement the 30/30 Rule. Before beginning a task, consider whether you have everything needed within either 30 feet or 30 seconds. If not, taking the time to get things in order and help eliminate the waste of motion.


Extra Processing

Extra processing occurs when you or those around you take time to do work that is either unnecessary or does not add value to the customer. Extra processing could be anything from painting a surface that will not be seen after completion to requiring several signatures on a form when one is sufficient to producing both hard and electronic copies of reports.

To identify extra processing in your daily routine, ask these three questions before you start a task:

  • Is the task necessary?
  • Does it add value to you or the customer?
  • Is there a better method to do the work?


By regularly examining our daily routines, we can identify and eliminate these wastes and make McKenney’s even LEANer!


Have a question for our experts? Leave a comment below and check out our website for more information.


About Bryan Decker

Website: https://www.mckenneys.com

Email Address: bryan.decker@mckenneys.com

Bryan decker is the LEAN champion at McKenney's. He started his 12-year career in the U.S. Army in 1992, during which he was part of the Army Aviation Logistics team. In 2004, he transitioned to a civilian logistics role for Target Corp. Since then, Bryan has worked to optimize operations and supply chains through continuous improvement and LEAN principles.

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