Worlds Collide! How a Waste Walk Helps You Trim the Fat

If you're not careful when searching for lean information, a simple typo will take you in a completely different direction. The word "lean" is a catch phrase in the health and dieting world. And if you are looking for information on reducing waste, be sure you don't spell waste with an "ai"!

However, there is one instance where the world of continuous improvement overlaps with the health and wellness sector. 

The Waste Walk!

Found on a Waist Walk?
Like any good exercise regime, the waste walk will help you and your team get out of your chair and become active, but the main focus is on identifying and reducing waste. A waste walk is designed to look for fat in your operations, and if done regularly, a waste walk may help you reduce inches off your waist as well! Worlds collide!

How Do You Conduct a Waste Walk?

Waste Walk Tool?
First, you need to know what you're looking for. What is waste? Before going on a waste walk, make sure your team knows what the 8 Wastes are. A waste walk is an improvement tool, but also a training opportunity.

Just remember the TIM WOOD acronym and you'll never forget the 8 wastes. One letter for each waste and you're off to the waste walk races. Well, you might forget the eighth one, since our friend TIM WOOD only covers 7 of them. But the 8th is easy to remember, the waste of talent!

  1. Transportation
  2. Inventory
  3. Motion
  4. Waiting
  5. Overproduction
  6. Overprocessing
  7. Defects 
  8. Talent or Skills

Review each waste with you team, perhaps using a short video, like the toast kaizen video.

Once you have the wastes memorized, get out there and start looking for them!

Choose a specific process area to focus on and dedicate a block of time for the review. An hour should be enough depending on how complex the process is.

Now, watch the process run. Is there waste of motion? Is there excess inventory? What about waiting? Are defects being generated? Discuss with your team and write down everything. Just write them down first, don't fix them.

Make sure you bring a checklist, so no waste is being neglected. Everyone should have a place to write their observations.

I've embedded a presentation from Slideshare outlining the 7 wastes and providing an audit sheet to use on your waste walk.

Waste Walk ~ Audit

After collecting all the raw information, you need to come up with an action plan. Some of the fixes will be easy, while others will be impossible. Sit down with your team and make a list of actionable items with implementation dates. The walking is over, but the plan is just beginning.

Just remember, even though you are making an action plan, there's nothing stopping you from doing small things right away. If you can improve it now, then do it!

Now Standardize It!

Unlike a kaizen event, you won't have 5 days to implement your changes. The purpose of a waste walk is identifying the waste. By keeping it short, you can schedule them regularly. One hour a week, or perhaps once a month, get a team to review their own process. Make sure management and supervisors are involved. They will be responsible for implementation.

The action item list is key to sustaining the changes. Management needs to audit and ensure the identified changes are put in place.  

Regular waste walks are good for the organization and great for your waist!

Need some more tips? Check out the following video of a waste walk being performed in a hospital.

Here's the direct link to the video on youtube:

I've added this post to my list of lean tools. 


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