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Fight The Worst of the LEAN Wastes

When it comes to describing the LEAN Wastes I like the DOWNTIME acronym, it gives the added hint that these aren't good things. Most people know and attack the popular ones in the group, the loud ones if you like, Defects - it's out there big, bold, brash and hard to ignore. Inventory, it's in your face, always demanding more valuable (and costly) floor space to keep things just to cover up the issues it's friends like Defects and Overproduction are causing. Motion is there, and there and there, she's all over the place, you didn't notice before, it was like a game of where's wally but now you are aware it's like you can't help but see her wasting time. What of the other guys, the quiet ones Waiting, just sitting quietly in the corner in no rush to move or do much, Overproduction who always wants that little bit more just in case and his cousin ExtraProcessing who demands he makes that Rolls Royce instead of the Ford the client really wants and of course Transport he just loves moving products and materials around just for fun! They can all get forgotten and while you do they are up to huge mischief and stealing your net profits from you.

There is one more however who is so clever at masking himself, hiding in the shadows of every organisation that you would think that they had received secret Ninja or SEAL training, she'll sit quietly without being noticed then, when you least expect it, it'll jump up, slap you in the face, punch you in the stomach, steal your lunch and run off with your most precious processions... we are of course talking about the NUT of the group.. Non Utilised Talent. 

Get to know your NUTs (Non-Utilised Talent)

Organisations the world overstress that people are their most valuable asset, "We only succeed because of our magnificent team of people" you will have heard this or something like it more than once and while it's true it is, unfortunately, more often than not a bit of an afterthought pitch or lip service to placate the 'people' to make them feel valued but actually it's not going to cut it, not any more.

Non Utilised Talent is exactly that, it's when there are people who have talents, skills & knowledge that are available to you that your organisation that you are not using or not training correctly.  Poorly or incorrectly trained people try to do their best work but you may as well tell them that they must use only their left hand to carry out all tasks, it'll get done but not at the rate or the quality level you need, why would you do that to yourself? Take the extra time and train right, another 2 or 4hrs training may sound a lot but when you counter that with the hope this person will be working for you for at least 10 years and adding great value in that time is it too much to ask? plus what will it do for their moral?

Identify the talent and knowledge that is in your organisation that you are not using, It sounds simple right? Well, it is, mostly. You see when I bring this up with organisations they quickly point out that they absolutely do use their people's talents and skills to the very best of their ability. Maybe they do but when was the last time you took Jess from the dispatch to the marketing meeting? Why would you, she works in the warehouse? Well, she knows first hand about how hard it is to package up your products, that new clever widget you just launched is a pig to pack and you don't want to be the person unpacking it at the other end, there will be bubble wrap for miles! How does that help marketing? Well, think about it if your product is a pain to unpack with huge amounts of extra bubble wrap what is the customer experience of your product? is it good? is it bad? will they tell people?.. isn't that marketing?

Do you know that Sandra in accounts actually has a green belt in six sigma? at a company she worked at 2 previous to joining you she was part of a team that analysed the variability of factory output, could she help your plant manager?

Dave on night shift has actually completed a night school course on copywriting and is going to be leaving (although you don't know yet) so he can set up a business freelancing as a copywriter, wait, could that help marketing? the training team?

All sorts of untapped skills and talent are all around you in the workplace. The issue is that organisations tend to only look at the immediate challenge or issue as to how they can use them. By allowing the use of some of the skills that you have you can do a number of things, for example

  • Sandra's 6 sigma skills could reduce your quality problems and increase your output before it's a problem
  • Jess's knowledge on how hard things are to pack can help marketing but can also reduce your packaging costs - if it's hard to pack you are doing it wrong!
  • Dave's passion for copywriting can free up other peoples time to do more of their work and let him provide a service while maintaining the knowledge at the company he has so reducing training time & lowering risk
The need to think about your Non utilised talent isn't restricted to when you have problems, it should be a way of life, like everything LEAN

The Knowledge Chain

The other part of the Non Utilised Talent for you to think about is what I call the Knowledge Chain, here's how it works. 

Inside your organisation, you have a huge amount of knowledge, skills & talent that you need to identify and make better use of. This is both within the building you are in but any other building within your organisation worldwide. Why can't you run a defect/fishbone analysis with someone on skype on the other side of the world? They, after all, have the additional advantage of also being dispassionate about the issue.

Someone in your organisation someone knows someone who has the knowledge, skills or talent to help you or they know someone who knows someone who has, the world is too connected for this not to be the case so why not tap into this? This is another category you should consider seriously, think about them as your extended family or workforce who are sitting outside your organisation but have the knowledge, talent and skills to help you. If you are not pulling in people where you need them even for a temporary period of time then you are hitting this waste. This is where the knowledge chain 

Steps you can Take

 There are a range of steps you can take to help reduce the Non Utilised Talent waste within your organisation here are just a few suggestions

  • Induction - actually plan one and have a proper one, expose people to area's outside of where they will be working, this will spark conversations in those area's about what people know. as part of the induction wrap up, get feedback from each person involved in the induction, what did they find out about the person.
  • As part of interviews and reviews ask people about their passions and actually take note of them, try and identify how they could be used within your organisation as part of that conversation, and then follow through
  • When problems come up and you need to launch an improvement team ask for volunteers and at the same time ask the functional leaders if they have anyone on their team who they believe could add value.
  • Ask again and again, who do we know who can help us with this.. even competitors work together from time to time successfully, just ask Apple & Microsoft!
  • Set Up Hackathons where people within the organisation can come along and work in random groups to come up with solutions or new idea's, just supply the pizza and drinks then get out of the way! (more on hackathon's in future posts, you'll love them)

Not making the very best use of the talent you have available either directly or indirectly is one of the cardinal sin's of any organisation but it, unfortunately, happens every day. Why not make today the day that you don't do it? 

Get In Touch

If you need any support in reducing the waste in your organisation then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better

You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting 


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Thursday, 09 April 2020

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