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The Waste of Waiting

Business Process Management

Patience may be a virtue, but nobody really likes to wait. That is just one of the reasons why the waste of waiting could be bad for your business. Waiting occurs whenever work has stopped for any reason. It can involve workers and customers, and almost always has a negative impact on efficiency, profitability, and overall satisfaction. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Poor communication
  • Inadequate staffing, or frequent worker absences
  • Long set-up or planning times
  • Unreliable machinery or tools
  • Unbalanced workflows

What Waiting Waste Looks Like

The waste of waiting is easy to spot since it usually results in people sitting or standing around doing nothing. It can also be masked by busy work, or identified by low moral and poor satisfaction rates. Following are some examples of what it may look like in your business:

  • Waiting for approvals before a project can proceed
  • Putting off the next phase of production because materials have run out
  • Long lines and full waiting rooms
  • Full email inboxes (customers or support tickets awaiting responses)
  • System or mechanical downtime

The Solution

One of the easiest ways to reduce the waste of waiting is to ensure adequate staffing for all parts of the business. It can also be reduced by improving communication practices, reducing employee distractions, and monitoring mechanical conditions and repairs. The following suggestions can be adjusted to suit any working environment:

  • Create and use checklists to ensure smooth and consistent workflows.
  • Implement effective feedback and reward systems for employees.
  • Review and refine systems to ensure efficiency.
  • Monitor tools and machinery to ensure good repair and less downtime.

Learn more about the types of waste that may be a drain to your business by reading the previous post in this series: The Waste of Over-Production, and the next post: The Waste of Not Utilizing Talent.

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