CI 101

What is knowledge waste? One of the 8 Wastes of Lean.

In my previous post, I mentioned that the heart of the lean system is people’s involvement, a highly motivated team continuously seeking the best way.  I learn this idea from Pascal Dennis on his book Lean Production Simplified, which is one of my favorite lean books.  It was in the same book, where for the first time, I learned about the nine wastes of knowledge.

Value-added activities add something, change, or transform material or information into what the customer is willing to pay for, everything else is non-value-added or waste.  Although at the beginning was seven deadly wastes, now we include the waste of knowledge to have eight categories of waste.  

Knowledge waste has different names, unused or non-utilized talent, non-utilized potential or skills, and neglect of human talent.  Regardless of what name you use, this type of waste is one of the reasons why so many companies have huge turnover rates.   In traditional management, leadership dictates orders expecting people to follow them without even questioning.  Doing that is disrespectful, it is treating people like commodities, the same way machines are treated.  

There is no surprise that for Toyota, respect is one of its core values.  Self-esteem is one of Maslow’s psychological needs, the feeling of achieving things, confidence, and respect is important to have the right level of self-esteem.  As leaders, we are responsible for actively listening, understand, motivate, teach, and influence our team.  If we fail, we are stopping the flow of knowledge, ideas, and creativity.  In other words, we are failing our team and creating a waste of knowledge.

The nine types of knowledge waste are the following.

  1. Hand-off – a separation of knowledge, responsibility, action, and feedback.
  2. Useless information – false or incorrect information
  3. Discarded knowledge – acquired knowledge or information that no longer serves the original purpose
  4. Wishful thinking – making decisions without adequate information
  5. Waiting – for information, comments, authorization
  6. Misalignment – disconnects in information or time, between departments, or within departments. 
  7. Communication barriers – culture, language and organizational culture
  8. Inadequate checking – constant follow-up, check, and balances, lack of trust
  9. Wrong tool – poor communication tools, narrow information channels

Many leaders still think that to be the boss, they need to have all the information, and hold it for themselves because the information is power. There is a lot of hidden talent in our organizations, and it is our responsibility to motivate, develop, teach, communicate, and influence our team. If we are not doing this, then we are guilty of creating a waste of knowledge. 

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