Examples of TIM WOODS Lean Wastes

Below are some examples of each of the 8 wastes (TIM WOODS).


  • Sending documents via mail that could be sent electronically
  • Shipping materials by truck, airplane or ship to another company or to your customer
  • Driving parts from warehouse to factory
  • Unclear instructions on where to arrive or park closest to entrance, requiring excessive walking
  • Workers physically taking materials from one department to another
  • Physically tracking down management to get approval signatures
  • Moving defective items out of work area to make space
  • Walking from your desk to a meeting
  • Walking from your desk to the copier/printer


  • Documents going through review process, submitted but not approved yet
  • Warehouse contains parts that are not needed in the immediate future (often due to bulk purchasing discounts or inaccurate forecasting)
  • Office – Too many projects being managed at once, many projects show partial work, time spent deciding the status of each project
  • Unread emails in your inbox
  • Personal – Buying food in bulk because it’s on sale, but some will go bad, and you need more space to store it
  • Buying parts or office supplies or food in bulk due to price reduction, but not considering storage needs and impact on cash flow
  • Manufacturing – Storing an excessive number of spare parts than what could be needed quickly (especially if it can be replaced quickly)
  • Manufacturing – Keeping a stock of materials or parts at a customer (at your expense) in case there are issues
  • Excess storage space on laptop or servers when not needed right now
  • Personal – Closet full of clothing that are never worn, taking up space
  • Personal – Extra rooms in the home not being used (just in case someone stays over or visits), but have to heat and cool the space, and the house costs more money
  • Personal – Fridge that is larger than needed, takes up more space and uses more energy
  • Personal – Buying items in excess (toilet paper, soda, paper towels, etc) because you got a good deal, but not considering the extra money it required out of your bank account, and where to store those items
  • Office – Job applicant resumes that have not been reviewed yet, and job postings that have not been fulfilled yet


  • Office – Spending time searching for files on your computer due to lack of organization
  • Bending down to grab frequent items because they are located too far away
  • Turning around back and forth many times from computer to enter data and back to work area
  • Picking up items multiple times to get it “out of the way” instead of addressing why it’s there
  • Clicking through different screens on your computer to get where you need, lots of clicking and motion of your cursor on the screen
  • Logging into multiple systems and databases to access all the information you need
  • Personal – Setting a moving box down multiple times before it goes into the moving truck, as this takes more time than carrying it straight into the truck
  • Office – Starting a task and not finishing it, putting it aside to work on later (dealing with it multiple times)
  • Office – Excessive movement of mouse or number of keystrokes needed to get the job done
  • Personal – Wasting time looking for something in your garage because it is not organized
  • Calling or emailing multiple people to get to the correct person who can answer the question


  • Waiting in line at post office to ship package, or at grocery store to check out
  • Waiting on phone for customer support to pick up
  • Waiting for nurse to respond to patient call in hospital
  • Waiting for travel expense report approval from management
    • Does it have to be approved? Why? Do errors happen that often? Can the process for approval be simplified or reduce the number of people?
  • Engineering – Waiting for charge numbers or approval to start working on a project
  • Engineering – Waiting for access to use critical lab or production equipment or software (not enough licenses) for testing or new product development
  • Waiting for computer to process files (due to outdated computer, or not enough memory to handle workload)
  • Waiting for equipment or machines to get repaired or serviced
  • Office – Meetings that start late (or previous meeting ran longer than planned)
  • Waiting for employee to return from break, lunch, or vacation, since no one else can answer the question
    • Consider a cross-training skills matrix to determine who else needs to be trained on certain jobs and skills


  • Two people working on the same project or task without knowing it
  • Performing inspection or reviews, as the work should be done right the first time
  • Office – Filling out fields in a form that are not needed or required by anyone else in the process
  • Office – Entering information into multiple locations or databases or systems, or saving files in multiple locations
  • Office – Recreating a file or report because you couldn’t find where you saved the older one
  • Office – Attending a meeting that you didn’t need to attend
  • Office – Copying or including people on an email that do not need to be included (be careful about “Reply All”)
  • Manufacturing – Applying too much packaging or protective material than is necessary to prevent damage of a part, as this takes longer to apply and for the next person to get part out of the packaging
  • Requiring a signature approval for minor activities, or having too many people approving a purchase or expense report
  • Putting too much effort and details into editing a video or audio file that is not appreciated by the customer (taking out every “um” and every pause, adding too many graphics or visuals that are overwhelming or distracting)
  • Cleaning your work area too often or frequently and it doesn’t make a difference
  • Selecting a machine or equipment or software that has more features and functionality than is necessary to do the job
  • Office – Printing physical copies of documents for a meeting that can be accessed electronically
  • Manufacturing – Placing a cover on a part prematurely, when the next operation will need to remove it
  • Manufacturing – Waiting for a part to cure or dry longer than necessary, may only need to wait until it sets up before moving to the next operation
  • Manufacturing – applying paint to a part that is not visible to the customer
  • Healthcare – making excessive medication dosage changes to a patient
  • Office – Sending attachments in an email that are not necessary, slows down delivery and takes up inbox storage space
  • Engineering – Adding more features or requirements to the design than what customer requested or approved
  • Engineering – Requiring tighter tolerances or specifications than what is actually needed from a supplier
  • Office – Creating reports that are not read or used, or providing more charts and data in the report than what is needed by the customer
  • Office – Writing a detailed and lengthy summary of a project or activity by email when your manager only wanted a short version
  • Office – Backing up or scanning files that are no longer used or needed
  • Office – Sending reports too frequently (daily vs weekly, weekly vs monthly, monthly vs quarterly)
  • Engineering – Putting excessive details or planning into proposals
  • Having to expedite shipping of supplies or materials due to waiting too long or improper planning
  • Moving my father-in-law’s bed into a retirement home, but he slept in his recliner chair and never used his bed


  • Office – Creating reports earlier than needed, might have to be redone with more recent data or information included
  • Sending or sharing too much information or data before it’s needed
  • Making more baked goods than what customers will need, having to discount as “day old” items the next day
  • Making lots of Valentine’s Day balloons in anticipation of holiday, but only sell some of them and have to destroy or discount the unsold balloons
  • Personal – Making extra food or preparing the food in advance, produces leftovers and food can go bad
  • Training someone on a job way before they need to know the skill or during a time when they will struggle to implement what they have learned


  • Visual or aesthetic issues with product or paperwork (damage, scratch, chip, dent, etc)
  • Not saving a file as you work on it, lost when computer rebooted or program shut down or got hung up
  • Internet goes out
  • Power (electricity) goes out
  • Healthcare – Wrong prescription provided to patient
  • Healthcare – Patient takes wrong medication or wrong amount of medication
  • Chemical spill that has to be cleaned up, order more material
  • Accidentally saving over an important file, or making changes to a document but didn’t mean to save it
  • Buying something you already own by accident, due to lack of organization or buying it before you needed it
  • Placing a small sign next to a public computer that you cannot use USB flash drives (and causing the computer to reboot for security reasons), instead of putting tape over the USB ports to deter it from happening
  • Incorrect storage of materials or chemicals that can increase the risk of spills or damage
  • Forgetting to mark when the food container was opened, may end up discarding it prematurely, or using it past its useful life
  • Mispronouncing a persons name or calling them by their formal instead of preferred name, or stating the incorrect gender pronoun
  • Not notifying or communicating when you are out of the office or not available
  • Office – Using outdated or incorrect templates/forms
  • Office – Forms and templates submitted with missing or incomplete information
  • Engineering – Failing to capture correct customer requirement or missing the requirement
  • Office – Viruses or malware in computers or servers
  • Office – Employees who have changed roles or left company that still have access to sensitive data or folders
  • Office – Files that get corrupted or deleted accidentally
  • Office – Using a password that doesn’t follow best practices for security
  • Manufacturing – Not following the standard work/protocol for performing a process
  • Machine or equipment breaks down from worker mistake or maintenance neglect
  • Charging the customer the wrong price
  • Giving the customer the wrong item or leaving out an item from the order


  • Having “people-friendly” people not working in the customer service area (wrong person for the skill needed)
  • Having people not detailed-oriented doing inspection
  • Promoting people from technical to management positions because they were good at the technical work
  • Not asking workers about their improvement ideas or what bugs them at their job
  • Not understanding employees needs or desires for future work or job positions (career development), more likely they will leave for another opportunity and have to be replaced


Want to learn more about Lean and Six Sigma tools, and apply them to an improvement projects? Check out these low-cost online courses and certification programs



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