no waste

returnPointless Effort

waste8Have you ever carried out work that does not make any sense to you? Work that does not benefit the user or the customer? Have you ever felt the work you are doing is totally pointless?

Unfortunately, many of us have to undertake that this type of activity everyday. Some of this goes under the title of "reporting requirements" or some other vague ruling. But often these are simply bureaucracy. You know no one is really interested and no one will read these reports unless (or until) something goes wrong and people need to cover themselves.

When teams and organisations get to a certain size, individual contacts between different people started to be replaced by rules and procedures. This can be a good thing if the rules are sensible and there is trust amongst the different teams. However, in many cases, rules became bureaucracy and the activities became pointless and no longer value adding to the customer.

This happens for a number of reasons, including: some people do not trust their colleagues to what they are supposed to do; other think the extra rules benefit customers by "protecting" their interest; and then there are those who suggested something sensible but did not think through the consequences of what they are asking.

The work we carried out, or the effort we put in, can be divided into three main categories as shown in the graphic. Adding Value is what we are delivering for the customer or end-user; enabling value is where our actions make the delivery of value possible - such as a safe workplace or a roof that does not leak. Waste is everything else. When we do value and wastepointless work, we are creating waste: our efforts are wasted; the investment in us is wasted, the resources we use is wasted. So we waste money, people's effort and also create unnecessary impacts on the environment through wasting energy and natural resources.

The waste from pointless efforts has another impact on enabling value - people get demoralised from carrying out these activities. The cumulative impacts of these is a lowering of morale and with it, a reduced level of innovative problem solving.

This is probably one of the most significant issue facing an organisation: a drought of innovative ideas from the workforce. Without this source of constant new ideas, an organisation cannot easily maintain a sustainable competitive position.