Waiting is Less Expensive

“Paying people to produce excess product cost more than paying people to do nothing.”

-Jean Cunningham

This is a quote I like to use when trying to change people’s mindsets around the 7 wastes.  It is human nature for people to want to look busy or “do something” when they are at work.  Especially, in today because our minds start to think, “If I’m not doing anything, they will think I’m not needed and cut my job.”  The managers and supervisors feed this mindset by pushing people to produce more and “keep the machines running” in a manufacturing world.

We need to switch this mindset and let it be known it is alright to be doing nothing if there is nothing to produce.

Overproduction (producing more than is needed or producing too early) is the waste that can create the other 6 wastes which in turn adds product costs.

It may be hard to see someone standing and waiting, but if a person is waiting and not working when there is no production needed they are not adding any more cost to the product.  They aren’t building up inventory of components that may not be used or later are found to be defective or become defective from sitting around waiting to be used.

Also, when a person is standing around waiting it highlights the imbalance in the work flow and can lead to problem solving around creating a better flow further reducing costs.

We should try to eliminate the waste of waiting, but we should do it the right way.  By highlighting the imbalance in the work and then create a better process that eliminates the waiting time.

In the end, waiting is less expensive then over producing product you don’t need.

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Posted on January 17, 2013, in Waste and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Make waste obvious so everyone wants to discover and eliminate its causes.

  2. Hi Matt – This is a good post that raises an important concept. Another application of this occurred when we were working with a maintenance company and had to help the crews develop new habits when the proper equipment hadn’t arrived for them to begin work. They had typically pretended they were busy so they didn’t “get in trouble.” But we asked them to stop the activity and, instead, stand/sit around so that it was obvious to a field supervisor that there was a problem. Worked like a charm! The equipment scheduling and delivery problem was fully addressed within a week. “Not doing” is a counter-intuitive concept for many but it does indeed often beat “doing.”

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