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Eliminate Waste – Lean Principle #1

This is a series of articles about the seven Lean Principles. The first of them is “Eliminate waste”.

During the years, operations accumulate waste in the form of additional new tasks but by not removing old ones. More reports and meetings, without removing the old ones, are added. More data and information, without processing, storing or removing them, are accumulated.

The latter is what has resulted in Big Data: an explosion of information that we are not able to manage and we think that an “intelligent system” is needed to analyze and process it in order to extract conclusions. Well, I have another idea; why not eliminate waste in information? We can’t perpetually accumulate rubbish in terms of information (that’s “infoxication”). For example, there are people that never delete emails. The problem with this is that interesting emails are mixed with miles of non-interesting emails, and later it is not easy to find valuable information.

In terms of processes, techniques/meetings, and tools, everything needs to be reviewed. I’ve always seen customers demanding new reports, more tasks and more deliverables. But we need to learn to change and transform things. This means doing away with old tasks in order to change and be able to do new tasks. Life is all about this: change. Also the Agile Manifesto is about change. Learning to Eliminate Waste helps us to find our free timeslots so that we are able to do new things. This will permit us to move ahead and change faster.

Eliminate Waste can be done in two ways:

· Big-Bang Implementation through a Transformation Project by performing processes re-engineering, and changing your organization from a traditional waterfall one to a Lean/Agile one.

· Continuous Improvement through traditional “Lessons Learned” or Agile “retrospective”. The idea for both is the same: At the end of every project/cycle analyze what can be improved and what is more important – do it!

Curiously, concerning a recent customer, I’ve seen an Infrastructure Management organization where all the people were very busy; they always told the customer that they had no time do new projects. Then, the customer said “you always tell me that you are very busy, but I don’t know what’s going on with your people. Who is organizing and prioritizing the work?”.

All tasks done by an organization need to contribute to the final result, so all the tasks should make it possible to show or explain to our customers. But sometimes this is not the case in reality. There are many hours expended on Internal Management.

We can’t have an organization that works for itself. We are supposed to work for customers.

The ability to eliminate internal tasks, not visible as real product tasks by our customers, is what conducts efficiency, optimization and excellence.

Are you able to explain all your daily tasks in terms of product contribution?

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Author: angelberniz (All Rights Reserved by the author)

Source: Original Text (based upon first hand knowledge)
Image: © Pressmaster –
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