A Waste Walk: A Lean Practitioners Best Friend

If you were ever to ask me what is the 1 tool that helps me the most with a Lean journey I would tell them it’s a waste walk. I like it for several reasons.

1) There are lies, damn lies, and statistics and numbers – Numbers and statistics don’t always tell the complete story so don’t trust the numbers or the data. Go see for your self with a waste walk.

2) Find out root cause – When you go on a waste walk you can actually see problems occurring and find how to address them easier than just being in a cube. Go to where the work is being done to find the source of your problems.

4) It’s the culture dummy – By changing your habits you’ll change your mindset. Changing the way you think about problems and the way you manage problems is the #1 factor to making a lean transformation work.

It’s important to note that there is no one way to do a waste walk. It is situation dependent but here are some examples and situations where you can use it.

Safety – Having a reoccurring waste walk to look for safety concerns is highly recommended. What you want to do is look at all the safety concerns you might see during your walk. This is great for manufacturing area.

Quality – Similar to the safety waste walk we look for quality issues. Where in the process are we likely to introduce potential defects. At first this will seem overwhelming but as you and your team continue to resolve the root cause it will become more manageable.

Process – This is usually the most common type of waste walk. During this walk you are looking for any kind of issue that can be a process waste.

Missed Opportunity – This is applicable more in the services industries where you walk a process and look for missed opportunities to add value to a customer.

The waste walk is a powerful ally in the fight against waste. Use it correctly and reap the rewards.

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