no waste

returnOver-doing / Changes

waste6Most people are lazy, so why would we over-do a job? Well, over-doing is not about the "120%" effort or working "25 hours" a day. It is not about putting in a final touch with pride or giving it a bit of extra polish because you believe it will enhance the usability. Instead , it is about doing more than we need to get the job done.

Sometimes this is about self-inflicted "unnecessary movements" but the big hit comes from changes. From project management to production schedules, change is not necessarily welcomed. Why? Because change means doing something again - perhaps differently. The impacts are significant- since the work has to be done again, all the efforts, resources and support activities/ energy use will be spent again.

Often the reason for change is not explained clearly or in the context of the individuals and teams doing the work- this leads to demotivation. One construction team leader told me ".. we dug that pit about 15 times: every time we finished, something was changed - new service or different services were introduced, so we dug it up again...". Even when you are being paid to re-do a job, emotionally it is not pleasant, especially if you reckon you are working for people who have little or no skill in planning a project.

We cannot really avoid these changes because they are often outside our control. What we can do is to prepare ourselves for change. Having a detailed change management log is useful, but it must also be coupled with a workforce that is trained to be flexible. An organisation where the workforce is regularly encouraged to be come up with innovations will certainly help when responding to change requests. Flexible working practices also mean that people may be able to shift from one activity to another with greater ease. Having a process to reuse resources is also a good way to minimise the impact of changes on materials use (and their embodied energy).


This waste is part of the classic Toyota 7 Wastes, which formed the foundations of Lean Operations. Toyota believes that these 7 wastes are the reason why we have physical wastes. However, as these were originally developed for large scale manufacturing, we explored what these wastes mean in a generic sense and have changed some of the emphasis so that they can be readily applied to other business areas.