8 Wastes – Overprocessing

Posted on December 12, 2011 | in Lean Wastes, Maintenance, Overprocessing, Small Business, Sports, Time Savings | by

(This is the second in a series of deeper dives into the 8 lean wastes.)

“Overprocessing” in the food world refers to the continual changing/adding/fortifying/manipulating of materials that takes it further and further from its natural, original state.

However, from a lean waste standpoint, overprocessing refers to manipulating and changing final products/services above and beyond what the customer expects and is willing to pay for.

(Actually, come to think of it, that definition could apply for lean AND Spam.)

While sometimes we’ll go out of our way to make products even better than the customer expects, this can be wasteful. If the customer doesn’t want to pay for the extra effort, then time and materials could have been wasted.

If the customer is anticipating a painted product with a dull finish and we elect to buff out that dull finish and give it a nice reflective sheen before handing it over the customer, how do we validate the usage of that time if the customer doesn’t feel the need to pay for it?

What’s worse is that it’s possible that the extra processing steps could create defective product. What if said customer requires the finish to be dull yet a communication breakdown causes the producer to shine it up? What if the product can’t be reworked to be downgraded to the condition the customer expects?

So where does this occur in sports?

  • Ticket counter reps could put printed tickets on game day into an envelope before handing it to the buyer, who then trashes the envelope (wasted process step and material)
  • A Starbucks barista puts the lid on a coffee and hands it to a customer who still needs to add nutmeg and vanilla powder
  • A groundskeeper watering the playing field more than necessary
  • Stadium custodians making sure every nook and cranny of a bathroom floor is dry before allowing folks to enter
  • Extra security software programs on ticketing computers that drag down its performance when once security package is all that is needed
  • Constant fiddling with the speeds of the rotating rods in the hot dog cookers
  • Shipping a package of non-fragile sweatshirts or t-shirts to a customer, and including styrofoam peanuts in the package
  • Offseason grounds crew members painting areas of the stadium that the patrons will never see (behind batter’s eye, inside maintenance shed, underneath bleachers, etc)

Overprocessing is generally caused by overzealous employees wanting to do a better-than-phenomenal job but lacking standards as to what is needed and guidance as to how to better use their time. If overprocessing is occurring, do everything you can to redirect that energy in a positive manner towards other value-adding activities! Create standard conditions of what a product should look like when finished, develop standard work for those processes, and determine if there are faster and cheaper ways to perform the necessary steps for the customer to be happy.

Many years ago my family was partaking in a Walt Disney World sweepstakes with a candy bar manufacturer. We had to collect letters from fun-sized candy bars that spelled out “MICKEY” in order to enter the sweepstakes. After many candy bars consumed and a few extremely hyperactive evenings later we had the letters together. Someone in the family who was very excited elected to trim the wrappers down to just the printed letters, going above and beyond with spare time they might have had. Unfortunately, the contest rules said the wrappers had to be whole and trimmed-down versions of the letters were unacceptable. As a result of that overzealousness our entry was no longer valid and our chances of winning went from one in 25 million to zero. (And no, it wasn’t me.)

Don’t let “perfect” stand in the way of “good enough.”

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