Let’s Talk Lean: Part 2

In my last post, I introduced the acronym you can use to remember the eight common wastes, DOWNTIME. Seven of these eight wastes were formally defined in the Toyota Production System. Non-Utilized Talent is the eighth waste that was not originally introduced through the Toyota Production System.




Non-Utilized Talent





We started with Defects and Overproduction. Today we’ll look at Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, and Transportation. While writing this, I have noticed that some of the causes are almost examples within themselves.  If the two seem a little interchangeable, you are not alone in your thinking.


Definition: Waiting can be defined as the instance in which production, or a process, has stopped because it is “waiting” for something else in order to continue forward.


  • Lack of communication
  • Poor planning
  • Understaffed
  • Unnecessary batch processing


  • Waiting for people
  • Waiting on material
  • Waiting for product from previous step
  • Waiting for machine maintenance


  • Clear Communication
  • “Just-in-Time” scheduling
  • Sufficient Staffing
  • Single-piece flow




Definition: Non-utilized talent is the failure to in-source intellect.

Your employees are a valuable knowledge source and are already familiar with your organization. Don’t overlook their unique sets of skills.


  • Lack of information supplied to employees
  • Lack of engagement with employees
  • Looking only to outside resources for solutions


  • Not hiring from within
  • Overlooking in-house experts
  • Not insourcing ideas
  • Failing or refusing to hear the ideas of the employees


  • Encourage employee engagement
  • Create a safe environment for employees to give feedback
  • Recognize employee performance improvement
  • Provide opportunities for employees to improve skills
    • In-house training
    • Education reimbursement
  • Create career paths within your organization for employees
    • I was talking with our Director of Human Resources today about this idea. He is currently working to redesign every job so that it has a clear career path within the company. Employees don’t just have a job, they have a career without having to bounce around to other companies. This is extremely beneficial to niche markets such as ours (Click Bond), because the time and money it costs to bring someone new up to speed is unnecessary if we can educate and promote within. We don’t want employees to see it as just a job. we want them to see a real career opportunity in front of them. Utilize and grow your in-house intellect!


Definition: Transportation is the movement of people, product, or raw materials. Map out the flow of a product and you will see its transportation.


  • Poor facility layout
    • Difficult to get from Point A to Point B
  • Location of required supplies
  • Location of required sign-off personnel
  • Non-standard inventory storage.


  • Walking to get a signature
  • Product moving back and forth through buildings for different steps in process
  • Random inventory placement (There are a few manufacturing facilities that purposely adopt a random inventory system but the choice fits the unique business demand)


  • Map your process flow and reduce the distance between locations; reorganize floor plans.spaghetti
    • Spaghetti diagrams are a great tool for this! I love making spaghetti diagrams because they are a real eye-opener to the unnecessary travel that is occurring. Use a floor plan of your building, or even a campus map if needed, and trace the path of your product, or process as it moves from step to step. You can even do this for computer work. Map out where the information is going.
  • Standardize Stockroom
  • Eliminate unnecessary steps that require transportation. Find the repetitive back and forth and get rid of it!
    • I was working with a team, going through their spaghetti diagram with them and noticed that they had to walk around looking for a person to sign-off on a form. Working back through the form, identifying the owner of the form, and asking “WHY?” we were able to eliminate the requirement of the signature and therefore the unnecessary back and forth transportation of paperwork and person.

Ask “WHY?” all the time. Sometimes we enlist a requirement as a reaction to an issue. Then, years down the road, when the incident has been resolved, we forget to remove the additional step. We forget why we even added it in the first place. “The way we have always done it” is a major culprit of waste.

Can you identify any Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, or Transportation waste in your work or everyday life? Try mapping out a process and see what you can find.

Photo Credits: Brain, Spaghetti Diagram

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