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Overprocessing Waste: A Different Spin on the Waste of Overprocessing.

What machine are you overlooking?

Let’s talk a little about the waste of overprocessing.

Anyone who has been around Lean for more than a day or so has dived into the seven wastes (eight with unused creativity thrown in). One of the wastes is the waste of overprocessing. The most common explanation given about overprocessing is that it is the act of doing extra, non-value added steps. For example, printing out an e-mail for filing, or grinding a burr off a product after a cutting process.

But there is far less commonly discussed nuance to overprocessing waste.

I am talking more about the small incremental slowdown of equipment that saps productivity.

  • A drill bit that is a little too dull, costing a few extra seconds per hole.
  • A computer filled with too much electronic baggage, making programs sluggish.
  • Equipment that takes just a little too much adjustment, slowing down a process.

I’m convinced, though, that the biggest waste from overprocessing comes a far different type of equipment.

It comes from fatigued and stressed gray matter.

Your Brain on Lean

Your Brain on Lean

Tired, chronically tense employees are slower, and less effective than well-rested, happy, satisfied employees.

Most employers pay attention to physical stressors. They build ergonomically correct workstations, add shock absorbing mats to work areas, use tool balancers, and implement a whole bunch of other techniques to keep tired muscles from affecting production.

Managing the intellectual slowdown is far less common.

People tend to work slower and make more mistakes at the end of a long day than they do at the start of a shift.

Rotating jobs to keep employees fresh, focusing on morale as a Lean strategy, and developing effective employee-boss relationships all contribute to reducing the waste of intellectual overprocessing.

What are you doing to keep you, or your team, from spending more brainpower on a job than you need to?


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Share Your Thoughts    |2 comments|

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  • Lin Guo says:

    This article attempts to link over-processing to mental fatigue. The linkage is weak.

    • Jeff Hajek says:

      Hi Lin,

      Thanks for commenting.

      Are you saying that the article is weak at showing that having to perform overprocessing tasks (i.e. emailing and then faxing a document, or watching the hourglass on your screen, or staring at a drill bit for an extra 30 seconds) is fatiguing, or are you saying that you don’t believe that those sorts of tasks are fatiguing?

      I’m always up for a good debate, and always want to make my content better. I’d love to hear more.


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