Many people (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) are thinking about “waste” prevention. According to Wikipedia, the original seven muda are:

  • Transport (moving products that are not actually required to perform the processing)
  • Inventory (all components, work in process and finished product not being processed)
  • Motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required to perform the processing)
  • Waiting (waiting for the next production step)
  • Overproduction (production ahead of demand)
  • Over Processing (resulting from poor tool or product design creating activity)
  • Defects (the effort involved in inspecting for and fixing defects).
  • Later an eighth waste was defined by Womack et al. (2003); it was described as manufacturing goods or services that do not meet customer demand or specifications. Many others have added the “waste of unused human talent” to the original seven wastes. These wastes were not originally a part of the seven deadly wastes defined by Taiichi Ohno in TPS, but were found to be useful additions in practice.

Now while there seems at first hindsight nothing wrong with these principles, they tend to pinpoint aspects related to production processes. The processes tend to be more important than the people working in these processes. But what if we took the LEAN principles as a path towards more happiness? Let’s give it a try.

  • Transport: stop moving ‘endless-growth’ or ‘ego-sustaining’ or ‘fear-inducing’ information onto (media) channels that can reach many people
  • Inventory: stop saving money onto endless piles without it being put into circulation
  • Motion: stop preventing people to move. It’s quite human to walk around and have a (social) talk. It’s not waste and it definitely is more human
  • Waiting: stop preventing people to wait. It doesn’t hurt to wait a little and use the time available to socialize or think of work improvement techniques or …
  • Overproduction: nothing wrong with a little overproduction if it buys you some time later on that you can spend doing nice things with
  • Overprocessing: start taking time to develop good tools and take time to allow for creative activity, that is not waste, it adds to better quality
  • Defects: if defects were not inspected, chances are we miss extra quality improvement potential

So if we start thinking of lean in a happiness context, we get another approach to production processes that might just not be economically “perfect” but definitely are a lot more social and human-centric. Happy happiness hunting!


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