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Shouldn't we rethink how to introduce 7 types of waste thinking?



Last week I wrote about “Kaizen”. To do “Kaizen” we need to find “Muda (Waste)”. So we need to memorize the 7 types of waste…… Let’s re-think this. Why are we batching & pushing this chunk of knowledge to people?


I have a 3-years old son. He loves the train. During this COVID pandemic, since I can’t take him to stations I introduced him to youtube. That drastically increased his knowledge of trains. The time & access to youtube is under my control. Therefore, when he wants to see a specific type of train which he memorizes, I need to memorize them, too. And this is a painful process for me since I am not a train maniac. How can I memorize the 7 (or more) major types of bullet trains in Japan? The show wedge plow train in Canada or Norway? I suspect that this will continue as he will be introduced to Pokemon and all other sorts of stuff. On the other hand, I know I already made several mistakes by batching what I like to him. Cramming is not the best form of education. This is one thing that is becoming more clear in today’s education system. How can we develop the curiosity or pull to Muda (waste)? This should be the main thinking behind our activities.


Muda (Waste) is not necessary Toyota's original word. It means “No payment”. (Sometimes I use Non-Value Add Work as separate from waste but both might be the same meaning). This is not some concept that requires training. I felt I was wasting my time on my old job without any training on the 7 types of waste. Was I even allowed to say that I have some “waste” inside my work? Is the knowledge of the types of waste preventing the person from taking action? I talked to my boss about this and he mentioned don’t worry about wasting my time. Then, I got several pressures from my colleagues to behave “better” to look “busy”. I became the weird kid in the office. These frustrations lead to my decision to leave that office. There is a proverb in Japan that says “Three wise monkeys are don’t see, don’t hear and don’t say.” Similar versions of this proverb is global, like “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Make sure that the evil is not waste because sometimes people think it is. They think that waste elimination is one way to lose their job.


So instead of teaching the 7 types of waste, what should we do? Go to the shop floor. Work on the problem that the people are struggling with. There was a factory, which I visited for the first time, and worked on one problem. Once that problem was solved, one guy screamed “This is what I was looking for!” That guy was the opinion leader of the plant. The plant manager grabbed him to discuss the Kaizen strategy. He agreed. Then in a few months, the plant made a huge turnaround.


So whatever the method you choose to coach the 7 types of waste, please at least don’t create an allergic reaction.

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