The Efficient Organization
Waiting Away Your Time
was the last time you had to wait for something or someone? Do you
remember how long you waited? If you waited for more than five minutes,
you probably felt frustrated. If you waited for more than ten minutes,
you may even have started getting angry about the wait. And what about
those instances when you waited for hours for a service technician to
many of us have waited for products or services at least once in our
lives, you may be surprised to know that there is a huge cost in
waiting. A Cost of Waiting study in 2011 revealed that waiting
cost Americans $38 billion. This is the equivalent of two full workdays
for every US employee.
you might say that one can "fill in" the waiting time with other work,
but if you are given a scheduled time for a product or service, there's a
good chance that you aren't going to show up on time expecting to wait
for more than a couple of minutes (and even that is excessive-zero wait
time is the only acceptable amount). When the waiting drags on, there's
little hope of recovering the lost time with any productive work.
causes excessive wait times (those longer than ten minutes)? The answer
is: inefficient or ineffective systems and processes. Customers waiting
in line at a bank are not waiting because the teller is slow; they are
waiting because the process is inefficient. Files or documents waiting
in a cue for a signature are not waiting because the signing authority
isn't willing to sign; the waiting time is due to the inadequacies in
the process or system. Is your IT system down? It's likely not due to
staff; it's the process. You get the idea.
average, 30 to 50 steps of any given process are wasteful. This waste
results in any number of inefficiencies, not the least of which is
waiting time. Fixing processes will result in fewer waits as well as
overall improved efficiency and effectiveness.
time you wait for an overdue report, the cable guy, attendees for a
meeting, or your physician, consider this: I submit that those keeping
you waiting are also disrespecting your time. Everyone may sometimes be
late for an appointment or with a deliverable, but if your scheduled
person or deliverable is running late, it is courteous to those waiting
to let them know how long the wait will be and also, apologize for the
wait. When time is wasted, regardless of cause, mutual respect for
everyone's time goes a long way to keeping everyone happy.
Pursuit of Profit
Idling for Action
at work, the worst possible outcome is a slow day. It's downright agony
to try and fill in time with what-appears-to-be-work. Waiting for work
is a waste of time and money.
is also one of the eight deadly sins of Lean; the others are:
underutilized talent, inventory problems, transport of products or
information, unnecessary motion of individuals, over-processing
(extra-processing), over-production, defects and re-work.
you or your organization experience frequent waiting for products or
services, you need to eliminate waiting. Here are four considerations
for eliminating waits and improving workflow in your office:
workloads. If your staff is waiting on work, there's a good chance that
another worker upstream is overworked. Conduct studies to determine if
some work can be transferred. The overworked employee will be happier.
The underworked employee will also be happier. And the company becomes
more efficient with its workflow. It's a three-way win.
kanban. If staff are waiting on backordered materials or products to
complete their work, a simple kanban system can help prevent issues with
backorders. A kanban system provides visual cues for replenishment of
materials or products before a crisis point is reached. Something as
simple as a reminder in a computer program or placing a coloured sheet
of paper within inventory items to alert when reordering is necessary
can be very effective.
preventive maintenance. To prevent waiting time due to machine
downtime, a preventive maintenance program will ensure that machines are
functioning at their peak. Something as simple as regular cleaning of
printers or photocopiers can avoid long downtimes.
end-of-shift tasks during slow periods. If you're in a role that
requires you to clean up work areas at the end of your shift, why not
"spot clean" during slower times of the day? This way, you'll have less
to do at the end of the day and you won't waste time waiting during
slower times of the day.
eliminating waiting from your organization's processes, you are adding
value by improving efficiency. In turn, you are improving your bottom
line. If you're in a public sector organization, you are keeping your
budget balanced. And where there's money at stake, no one wants to be
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
nothing wrong with wasting time if it's for the right reason. When I
waste time, I do so by playing games such as my recent online favourite,
Words with Friends. Admittedly, it can be time consuming if I
let it. I also find it to be a bit of a paradox in that it keeps my
brain active while at the same time it relaxes me. It provides me with a
break from the usual even though the usual awaits my attention. Am I
wasting time? Maybe, but I don't feel as if I am. Nor do I feel as if my
clients are waiting on me. I always complete my work on time and meet
my deadlines. Having my work wait for me while I waste time playing
games? I think that's called a creative break. IMHO.
"I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them."
About MNC Consulting Group
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