Harnessing the 8th AND 9th Waste of Lean Six Sigma

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Yes, you heard me right, there is a 9th Waste ! We all know the 8th waste is the under-utilisation of our people but what about the 9th waste; the under-utilisation of our customers.

An underestimated factor in all Lean Six Sigma deployments is the underutilized talents of our collective and collaborative potential and this isn’t just talking about our staff, as in the 8th waste of lean. We often get so busy with what each of us are doing individually, that we lose sight of how much more powerful we could be, if we combined our efforts!

In our opinion, herein lies the secret of LSS …


Ask yourself how you can make the most of people’s time and investment in CI or LSS practices and how it will/could affect/benefit your business? Your resources, employees and customers are important assets – how are you using and utilizing them all in this process of becoming a more agile and cost-effective organization/business/operation ?

Always, start by asking "What can I do?". This personal hands-on approach can truly make a difference in any business.

Ways to avoid your LSS initiatives becoming frustrating, failing or coming up short:

Pay special and close attention to what the business culture really is! It could be totally out of alignment with the principles and fundamentals of LSS and cause some stress, tensions, or even resistance within and throughout the organization. 

  • Ask and answer yourself/your team, your business, partners and customer honestly what the existing climate is that would support (hinder/help) LSS working methods and how it will benefit all stakeholders?  
  • Here is another useful question: Is our organization hierarchical, rigid and autocratic and not a people centered company?  
  • Learning what not to do from the mistakes and discoveries, shared learnings and insights from others is critical. This is especially crucial from our customers, listen to their complaints, survey them regularly to ascertain what current products they would like more of, or variants of and what additional products that we don’t currently offer would they like to see in our catalogue? They are the people who pay all our wages and without whom, the business would not exist! 
  • Be aware that not everyone will necessarily share your enthusiasm for LSS. Some might dread what it does to their work load and world. Some initial resistance to any change is normal. Showing the value or the WIIFM (what is in it for me) is a very important part of the whole LSS initiative.   


Paul Swift

Beyondlean Ltd.

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