The Lean approach to process improvement is based on identifying and dealing with various types of waste. Traditionally, Lean lists seven types of waste, including defects, overproduction, excessive transport of goods, unnecessary motion of staff, confusion due to poor communication, waiting, and build-up of inventories. An eighth waste has been added to this list more recently, to wit the ‘waste of human talent.’ To my mind, this is the hardest to understand fully and address successfully. In this post, I will try to touch on a couple of salient aspects of this instance of waste.
In a previous post, I described how problems in the management of surgical inventory at a large, multi-site hospital were addressed. In this post, I will try to make explicit the connection between some of the activities carried out on that project and Lean thinking.