You must first identify your sources of waste before you can go about the task of eliminating them. This article will define what the letters in DOTWIMP stand for, discuss the benefits of using DOTWIMP to eliminate waste, and share some best practices for doing that.

Overview: What is DOTWIMP? 

“Waste is all around us, yet we walk by it every day.” was a popular phrase used by the CFO of a large consumer products company. DOTWIMP is an acronym used to describe the seven most commonly identified wastes in an organization. 

Another common acronym is TIMWOOD or TIMWOODS. You may also run across the phrase DOWNTIME. 

All of these acronyms contain the same wastes but are sequenced differently. Taiichi Ohno of Toyota developed the original seven wastes as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

The wastes of DOTWIMP are:

  1. Defects: The production of a non-conforming item that does not meet your customer’s requirements.
  2. Overproduction: Don’t produce more than you need. This will result in possible scrap and excess inventory.
  3. Transportation: If something is just moving from one location to another it is rare that value is being added. Don’t needlessly move people, materials, equipment. or even information.
  4. Waiting: Waiting for people, equipment, materials, and information so that you can do your work is a waste of time.
  5. Inventory: Inventory is an expensive cost for most organizations. There are the costs of storing, managing, and utilities as well as the cost of the invested money.
  6. Motion: This is different from No. 3, transportation. This waste refers to the physical motion of people. Keep the movement and motion of people to a minimum.
  7. Processing: This refers to the overprocessing of either product or even paperwork that the customer is not inclined to pay for. Don’t do more than the customer needs or will pay for.

3 benefits of DOTWIMP 

Knowing and identifying your waste will allow you to eliminate it. There will be both tangible and intangible benefits of doing so. 

1. Speak the common language 

By using the acronym DOTWIMP, you can create a common definition and language for talking about waste. Miscommunication will be reduced if everyone is identifying what the waste is and how you define it.

2. Focus on process, not on people 

Most waste occurs as a result of the design of the process and not the people working in that process. Work on identifying what process steps, activities, and tasks contribute to the waste, and work on improving those. Your people will be happy to support that since it will make their jobs easier and more satisfying.

3. Improves process performance 

Getting rid of the waste, or what the Japanese call muda, will improve your turnaround time, reduce your costs, and improve the performance of your process and your people.

Why is DOTWIMP important to understand?

If you’ve been working in a process for a while, you may become immune to waste because you start to assume it is just the way things are done. Getting a deeper understanding of your waste will help turn that attitude around.

1. Impact on employee morale 

People want to do a good job. But if the process causes them to create waste in their tasks, they will become frustrated and demoralized. 

2. Waste consumes valuable resources

Waste costs money. Waste will have a negative impact on your process, material and equipment usage, and people. 

3. Waste will impact your customer 

It’s hard to satisfy your customer if you provide them a bad product or service delivery. Eliminate your waste, and you’ll have a better chance of building a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

An industry example of DOTWIMP

DOTWIMP can serve as a guideline for identifying sources of waste in any organization.  

As an example, the VP of finance learned about DOTWIMP in his Lean Six Sigma training. He decided to use DOTWIMP as a template for looking at his department’s processes, which included audit, payables, receivables, treasury, risk management, and budgeting. The Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (BB) from his department was asked to convene with his managers and evaluate the major processes.

The VP was not surprised when the BB reported that he found significant waste throughout the department. It was obvious that there were errors and defects repeatedly occurring in the documentation which required rework, or what they like to call it in accounting, “adjustments.” There was overproduction of reports that no one seemed to actually look at. He also noted that there was extensive transportation caused by the needless walking back and forth between departments, the moving of paper and reports, and the rolling of carts throughout the building. 

They also found that people were waiting for other departments to provide the necessary information and numbers so they could do their jobs. There was excess inventory of paper, desk supplies, forms, binders, and other office supplies. Motion was an issue with some employees because of having to reach, bend, and stretch for supplies in the closet as well as in their personal offices and cubicles. They understood that statutes and accounting principles called for some oversight but wondered whether all the checks and audits of things were really overprocessing.

The VP asked the BB to form a team and start reducing or eliminating the most obvious wastes to improve the performance of the finance function.

3 best practices when thinking about DOTWIMP 

If you want to satisfy your customers, improve your quality, and be more profitable, then start using DOTWIMP as a guide to identifying and eliminating your waste.

1. Develop a common definition of DOTWIMP 

To assure consistency, be sure to have specific operational definitions for each type of waste. 

2. Proact to prevent resistance 

Once you start your hunt for waste, your employees may get nervous or concerned that they will be blamed for the waste. Communicate to them that you understand that waste is a function of the process, and not just them. Seek their input and help in identifying the wasteful activities of their process and how they think it can be eliminated.

3. Don’t bite off too big of a piece 

Waste is everywhere. Start by identifying and eliminating high-impact, low-effort, obvious sources of waste. Your people probably know where they are right now. Quick wins will help get you the buy-in you need to continue on with the more complex causes of waste as you become more experienced in identifying and eliminating sources of waste.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about DOTWIMP

1. What are the elements of DOTWIMP?

Defects, Overproduction, Transportation, Waiting, Inventory, Motion, and Processing (overprocessing). 

2. Is there a difference between TIMWOOD and DOTWIMP?

No. They both include the seven sources of waste in a process; they simply present them in different sequences. 

3. Can DOTWIMP be used in a service organization? 

Yes. There is waste in all organizations, all functions and all processes. You can apply DOTWIMP in any type of organization.

DOTWIMP in a nutshell 

Waste exists in every organization. You can walk by it every day and may eventually become immune to its existence. It’s your responsibility to identify and eliminate waste in your organization.

So, stop wasting time and start looking for and eliminating defects, overproduction, excess transportation, needless waiting for things, inventory, motion, and overprocessing.

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