In these difficult economic times it is vital now more than ever that organizational leadership understand and implement the best defense against all types of waste. Value added analysis and percentage increases to the overall value added activity must be among the top measurements for all employees. Non-value activities need to be reduced and cultural positives expanded.

Waste can be described as an organizational cancer in that it will slowly consume it if not abolished. An organization may not be aware it has the virus. Regardless of that truth, just as in the human body the virus will still have a detrimental impact. Once an organization is aware of it’s presence a remedy must be sought. The virus cannot be overlooked for the reason that it will get stronger and eventually destroy the organizational body.

Most organizations focus on the wastes of over production, waiting, transporting, over processing, inventory, motion and defects. These wastes are detrimental and organizations must work towards their elimination. However, the biggest waste of all, the one that can hurt the most, often gets thrown to the side and completely ignored. This waste is; the underutilization of employee talent and it is often referred to as the 8th waste.

This 8th waste can be complicated to eliminate.

Continuous Improvement cannot be understood and implemented by just reading a book, an article or attending an expensive seminar. A person can research the game of blackjack, but unless they have laid their money on the table and lost a few rounds they do not truly understand it.

So, first we have to understand that Continuous Improvement is a lot more than catch phrases and buzz words. A manager has to have faith in Continuous Improvement for it to truly work. The conviction has to be present; there can be absolutely no doubt. Yes, the manager will experience failure. However, failure does not necessarily have to be viewed as a negative experience. It is really a learning curve. As Edison said “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Continuous Improvement is an organizational state of mind and has to be nonstop, meaning that everything implemented has to have controls as well as flexibility. I believe this is a common problem among many organizations. Process controls can become progress controls if this is not understood. The Continuous Improvement mindset is a necessity and if the organization is not willing to make constant incremental changes the value stream will not thrive.

Organizations will not survive set in the 1940’s and 1950’s manufacturing mentality. To put it simply; prehistoric methods and measurements will not generate futuristic results. They never have and they never will. The manufacturing methods and programs of the past must be rethought and restructured.

Cultural vitality is the key to organizational survival. Organizations must leverage their ability to train and engage the workforce. Use the talents for Kaizen, process manipulation, standard work development, TPM, Value-Added Analysis and the analytical tool development. Eliminate the 8th waste, create levels and goals built within a career path and mold the organizations future leadership.

If this is done conviction and dedication will reach new levels and the organization will prosper. Not just in efficiency but in human capital.

About the Author