What About the 8th Waste?

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Many lean practitioners often ask, "What about the 8th waste?" This curiosity often stems from a sense that there's something missing in the way we practice lean.

Traditionally, Lean methodology identifies seven wastes:

  1. Defects
  2. Motion
  3. Inventory
  4. Transportation
  5. Overproduction
  6. Processing
  7. Waiting

However, many also identify an 8th waste. This 8th waste typically refers to unused human intelligence and creativity, leading to ineffective processes, slower pace of improvement, and frustrated people, all of which result in more waste and reduced profitability.

Harnessing Human Intelligence and Creativity

Lean implementation is fundamentally about changing human behaviors and thought processes, rather than just modifying procedures, factory layouts, or systems. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between these seven human behaviors (wastes) and reduced profitability. Recognizing and measuring these seven wastes in every process is key to taking quick and effective kaizen action.

While the concept of waste is common sense in a lean manufacturing context, some believe it is too simplistic and needs to be "improved" by adding more types of waste. This has led to the addition of anywhere from 1 to 13 different types of waste over the years. However, we recommend sticking with the original seven wastes to keep it simple. Most other types of waste can be included in one of the seven types, or they are a cause of waste rather than the waste itself.

Addressing the 8th Waste

The eighth waste, however, is in a different category than the seven production wastes and deserves our full attention. When we address the waste of people's unused creativity, we stop ignoring them as idea generators. We listen and put into practice their kaizen suggestions, engaging more of a person's potential. Instead of only physical ability or trained-in job skills, we make use of their capacity for creativity and problem-solving.

Embracing Creativity

In summary, the waste of people's unused creativity is a pivotal factor in the lean methodology that should not be ignored. By incorporating people's ideas and suggestions, we can eradicate waste, and enhance our processes, leading to elevated profitability, heightened employee engagement, and overall superior results. It's time to commence addressing the 8th waste in your lean implementation process and unlock the untapped potential of your workforce.

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