Confusion is a lack of certainty. This uncertainty translates to waste.
This waste is cause by two main things:
Delays: Confusion creates delays in processes when operators try to figure out what to do, which leads to variation in cycle time. With enough of these delays, lead times also become harder to predict.
Poor Quality: Confusion creates quality problems. When instructions are unclear, people sometimes get the process wrong.
Confusion can be avoided with clear visual controls (i.e. andonlights and kanban systems) and well-documented Standard Work. Effective training programs also limit the problems that come from a person not knowing a process well.
A continuous improvement culture helps reduce confusion. In a typical environment, when there is a confusing process, an employee may develop a personal workaround. That helps them, but as soon as they are gone for the day, or move to a new job, the replacement worker is lost. When an organization is improvement-centric, they don’t tolerate those hidden factories.