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Is there any waste in your process? Yes! There are 8 of them to be exact. And one way to root out the 8 Wastes is to conduct a Waste Walk. It’s a great way to introduce co-workers to “see with new eyes,” recognize the process issues all around them and start thinking about ways to get rid of unnecessary steps, activities and materials.

Join this Introductory Webinar for a simple guide to a sight-seeing tour of the 8 Wastes along with next steps.

Webinar Level

  • Introductory


In this 1-hour webinar, we will cover the following:

  • The structure of a Waste Walk
  • Examples of the 8 Wastes
  • Potential follow-up actions
  • Waste Walk tips and tricks

Tools & Templates

Presentation Slides

Webinar Transcript

Tracy O’Rourke: Hi, everyone! And welcome to’s webinar today. Thank for spending some quality time with us. Hundreds of people have registered for this webinar. We are really excited that you’re here.

Lean and Six Sigma are the go-to improvement methods used by Lean organizations all over the world to delight customers, minimize cost, and develop better teams. Every month, we craft webinars just for you, our global learner community, that simplify concepts and tools of Lean Six Sigma so that you can understand and apply them more easily and be more successful.

And so, I’m happy to let you know that our webinar today is specifically for you. It’s called How to Conduct an 8 Wastes ‘Waste Walk.’ And I’m Tracy O’Rourke. I’m a Managing Partner at I’ll be the moderator today.

About Our Presenter

Today’s presenter is also a Managing Partner at, my colleague, the wonderfully talented, innovative, and consummately passionate about learning, Elisabeth Swan. Let’s hear it for Elisabeth!


Elisabeth Swan: I got a big audience out here.

Tracy O’Rourke: Are you excited about today’s webinar?

Elisabeth Swan: I am, Tracy. I am totally excited.

Tracy O’Rourke: Me too. So let me tell you a little bit about Elisabeth. She is my co-host of the Just-In-Time Café Podcast. She is also my co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit. And she is a longtime Lean Six Sigma Consultant, Master Black Belt, Coach, and Trainer for over 25 years, but she is only 30.


Besides almost three decades in the business, Elisabeth also performed with Improv Boston. So this girl is funny too. Since half of process improvement is improvisation, that’s a good combo. Welcome, Elisabeth!

Elisabeth Swan: Thank you, Tracy. I always love my introductions from you.


How to Interact

Tracy O’Rourke: So let’s talk about a few housekeeping issues. At the end of the presentation, we will have a question-and-answer session. However, please feel free to ask questions at any time by entering them into the chat area. We do welcome you to participate. You will also be asked to participate in some polls. And if we don’t answer all of your questions during the webinar, all the answers will get posted in the Go-Getter Membership forum.

A copy of the slides will also be available in the webinar post on our website under free for introductory webinars.

OK. If you would like to become a member of the Go-Getter Membership, we will share some information at the end of the webinar. So now, you’ve only been on this webinar for two minutes and we have our first activity.

Where Are You From?

So please join us and tell us in the chat window where are you from. Hundreds of people have registered for this webinar all over the world and we would like to hear where you guys are coming from and how late you are up or how early you are up. And we will give you a little time to enter those in.

Elisabeth Swan: What do you see?

Tracy O’Rourke: Wow! OK. So there are a lot of people on this call. San Diego, that’s great. That’s where I am. New York City, Canada, Seattle, Vermont, Iowa, Philadelphia, Versailles, Missouri, San Diego again. Hey, Sally! How are you? Sally Toister is on the call.

Elisabeth Swan: Hi, Sally!

Tracy O’Rourke: Wisconsin, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, Cherokee, North Carolina, Lompoc. We got a lot of people from California here. Mexico, Spain, let’s see, Texas, Merced, California, Edmonton, Canada, all kinds of places.

So, it looks like we have a lot of people from the US on this. We got somebody from the Philippines. Thank you, Israel for joining. And also, from Calgary, Kent, thank you for coming. New Brunswick, so lots of stuff. I can go on this list forever and ever.

Elisabeth Swan: It looks great.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. So, we know your time is valuable so let’s go ahead and get started. Elisabeth, over to you.

Our Mission and Core Values

Elisabeth Swan: Thank you, Tracy. That was a great introduction and it’s great to hear where you guys are calling in from, from all over the world. And thank you for joining Tracy and me today.

As she said earlier, we’ve both been with since its inception. We founded with a clear purpose. We want to revolutionize the way people learn process improvement, making it easy for everyone everywhere to build their problem-solving muscles.

And we’ve got three core values. We believe in cultivating community, and that’s you. We believe in having a servant’s heart. We are here to be of service to you, produce free webinars. We have a trailblazing spirit. We are lifelong learners and we never want to be complacent with the status quo.

And thankfully, there are lots of organizations out there who agree with our philosophy. So here are some of the organizations that we have helped.

We’ve Helped People From …

As you can see, there are lots of diverse organizations that have come to us for training. We have brick and mortar and online companies, there are diverse industries, we’ve got health care, financial services, manufacturing, state government. And the reason is that Lean Six Sigma is about problem-solving, and every organization has problems to solve and all organizations need people who are good at problem-solving. So for anyone looking to strengthen and build their problem-solving muscles, Lean Six Sigma can help you.

So, more on some benefits later. First, let’s review our objectives.

Learning Objectives

After attending this webinar, you are going to be able to identify the 8 wastes.

You’re going to be able to prepare for a waste walk.

You’re going to be able to observe wastes in the process or a workspace.

And you’re going to identify opportunities for improvement.

Today’s Agenda

And the agenda, we’re going to first dive into the definition of a waste walk, the benefits of waste walk, examples of the 8 wastes, and how to conduct a waste walk and then we will finish it up with some tips and tricks for you guys.

What is a Waste Walk?

So, what is a waste walk? A waste walk is a structured visit to a workspace or a process to observe and identify the 8 wastes with a goal of uncovering continuous improvement opportunities.

So, there are variations but basically, you are walking around in a work area. You are observing either a particular workspace or a process. You’re looking for the 8 wastes, which we will review shortly, and the goal is to find improvement opportunities. So waste walks don’t take a lot of time and they don’t require financial investment so it makes them very attractive.

What is Waste?

So first, let’s define what we mean by wastes. We are not talking about what gets thrown out. We are not excluding that but it’s anything that fails to add value for a customer but it increases the cost. So the goal in an organization is to get rid of as much of this as possible. And waste is generally described as inefficiencies in the process or the workspace. And the problem is that we just get used to it and we stop seeing it.

So the waste walk is a way of looking with a trained eye at what we might not otherwise notice. There’s a famous quote by Marcel Proust and he said, “The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.” And I often think about the artwork on the walls around the home or at work. After a while, you just start noticing it. Until somebody puts it up in a new spot or puts up something new, you don’t see it. So our goal is to see things anew.

Why Conduct a Waste Walk

So setting back to think about the big picture, the goal of Lean Six Sigma is a systemic – creating a systemic culture of improvement and the idea is that continuous improvement is the rule and not the exception. That means the idea is all employees are able to identify and implement change.

So, how does a waste walk play into this vision? It introduces the concept of waste to employees. It helps someone how to identify the 8 wastes, it gives people practice seeing waste in the workplace, seeing with new eyes, it provides opportunity to get their input on current state problems, and it gets people excited to engage in process improvement. It spreads the words.

So, waste walks are often used to engage employees that are new to process improvement. So if you’re training people – it’s just like a great Yellow Belt or interactivities. So, your problems are solved in a conference room. You need to go where the work happens, and this is a great opportunity to do it.

What Are the 8 Wastes?

So let’s talk about the 8 wastes. So the ones listed here are defects from production, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing.

Originally, there were only 8 wastes and these were identified by a man named Taiichi Ohno and he was the Chief Engineer at Toyota and he is considered the Father of the Toyota Production System. And this later became known as Lean Manufacturing. So the term for waste in Japan is “muda.” So in case you heard that term, “muda” is used when discussing waste because that’s what Taiichi Ohno called it. So that’s why you hear Japanese terms every once in a while.

There are many variations of this list. Non-utilized talent is universally agreed on as the 8th waste like that added. And although you might see it as S for scales, you might see it as U for unused employee creativity, you might see it for H for human potential. You’ll see that in a lot of different forms. But it’s always – it’s generally considered and included now in the list of 8 wastes.

So this list forms an acronym which is DOWNTIME and we like that acronym because downtime is a waste, right? Not if you’re on vacation, that feels good, but in the business space, it’s a waste.

So others write their waste to form the acronym TIMWOOD or TIMWOODS or TIMWOODU like university. I’ve never met Tim Wood. There’s got to be one out there and I’m always wondering if he knows he has been tied to the 8 wastes.

I’ve also seen this written – the terms rewritten so that the waste formed the word HOSPITAL. Hospital can really gain from waste walks. They’ve been adapted to health care so you might see that.

However you encounter them, they are generally described and we’ve seen 8 wastes. And we’re going to cover each one of these in detail shortly.

Poll #1

But first, we’d like to get a sense of experience in the room. So, have you ever participated in a waste walk?

Tracy and I are going to set up a poll here and see what you guys have experienced. Tracy, how about you? What do you experience? What do you see in terms of how people experience these when you walk into an organization?

Tracy O’Rourke: So often, I have not seen that people have participated in waste walks in the past. Personally for me, I do a lot of process walks because people bring me in to conduct Green Belt training so we end up doing a waste walk and a process walk at the same time. But this is great for waste walks even at a Yellow Belt level. You understand waste, go for a waste walk. So it’s a great gateway into observing a process if that’s what you end up doing. But I say, most people, I haven’t seen them do a waste walk.

Elisabeth Swan: Okay. So let’s see what we’ve got with this one. What do you see?

Tracy O’Rourke: Okay. So, 60% have said no, they have not participated in a waste walk and 40% have said yes. Thank you for participating in the survey.

Elisabeth Swan: Okay. That’s good. So we got a temperature here. So less than half, most people on the call haven’t experienced them. So we will come and get back to some people’s experience we have a little bit later.

Waste Walk vs. Process (Gemba) Walk

So the first thing I want to point out, Tracy, just mentioned a process otherwise known as a gemba walk. And I want to point out the difference between a waste walk and a gemba walk. So waste walks and process walks are both transformational activities. They both involve going to where the work happens. In Japanese, that’s called gemba. That’s why it’s called a gemba walk. But they are different.

So let’s go over the differences. The basic difference is observation versus interviews. A waste walk, you say why you’re there but you don’t interview people. You view the check sheet and you capture your observations.

In a process walk, you’re there to ask questions and you have an interview sheet to capture questions, the common questions, to capture answers to common questions and to get some data estimates.

So each of this activity uses a different form to capture the information.

Another difference is that in a waste walk, you generally divide and conquer. But in a process walk, you stay together. You got interviewers and interviewees. You move from process step to process step as a group. After somebody is interviewed, they get up and join the group. And you go to the next step and somebody sits down and they are interviewed and we watch how they do the job.

So facilitating process walks requires more planning and more facilitation whereas waste walks take less time and as I mentioned, they are more introductory.

Now, we’ve got webinars, videos, single modules, templates all about facilitating or participating in process walks. So you can check those out too later because we’re still talking about waste walks.

Waste Walk Structure

So let’s talk about the structure. So a higher the structure of a waste walk, you start with getting permission and letting people know about the walk. So clear the way. Get people ready for what’s coming. On the day of, we pull everyone together into a team huddle and we get them prepared. We go over what that is.

Next, each person walks their assigned workspace or their process area. And then each individual documents the wastes that they observed. And then after the walk, the group debriefs their findings. And the last thing is you develop your follow-up plans, your next steps.

1. Clear the Way

So let’s start with the first step and review what’s the involved with clearing the way. Get permission. Make sure it’s OK with the people in the process for you to visit and observe. And the assumption is that the people doing the waste walk are part of the process. So be sure to check with others who work in the space or the process to find who wants to be involved. Obviously, you can’t include everybody or there’s nobody to observe. We do want to reach out.

Let them know what you’re up to, they will be interested and if things go well, they are supportive. I mean in your organization where you’ve got a good problem-solving coach, they are supportive. But even doing this could garner support. So it could be an introduction for leadership too.

So what other people in the process or the area who are not joining you, visit you and trying to time to conduct the waste walk. Make sure they know the goal is to make everybody’s life better, customers, employees, et cetera. It’s not doctor session.

Make sure the date and time work for them for example. Don’t pick April 14th in a tax auditing process and give them some notice. So that is clear the way.

2. Conduct Team Huddle

Now, let’s look at the team huddle. So on the day of, you conduct a team huddle. You establish the purpose. So what you’re looking for is improvement opportunity. You might be helping Yellow Belts deepen their training and their process knowledge. You might be responding to complaints.

Once identified, the goal is to remove as much waste as possible. Your high level goals are you want to increase customer satisfaction, you want to reduce operating cost, you want to have stronger financial performance, and you want to have greater employee engagement. So start with that high level why we’re here, why we do this at all.

For the ground rules, let – for those who work in the area or the process who are not involved in the waste walk, let them know you’re observing how things flow or how their workspace is arranged and let them know you want to honor what they do and help the process be as best – the best it can be.

Describe the 8 wastes to the group. Use the infographic in this presentation or the list on the check sheet.

Provide examples. Again, there are some listed on the check sheet but if you’re already familiar with some classic waste, it’s great to give participants an idea of what you see in your organization.

Distribute the 8 wastes check sheet. It’s a really easy way to capture observations. You can set a rule with people. They have to try to capture at least one example of each of the 8 wastes and then assign areas to each person.

Again, the classic waste walk is divide and conquer. So a workspace could be a nursing station, it could be multiple different nursing stations, it could be a supply closet.

In a process, it could be guest checking at a hotel. It could be patient checking at the emergency room, processing print jobs. We will go over more options for processes. But that’s what comes out of the team huddle.

8 Wastes Check Sheet

So this is the check sheet. And as with the infographic earlier, this sheet is based on the acronym DOWNTIME. So it includes the definition of each waste and it includes examples for both transactional and manufacturing processes.

If you look at that top line where it says defects, it’s in blue. All of our templates include one example from the Bahama Bistro case study and they always include one and usually two tabs so you can go look at a filled in sheet of 8 wastes and see all of the examples from the Bahama Bistro. So that’s a restaurant process so you can see what they found when they did their own waste walk.

So it has got examples, transactional and manufacturing because this is a multipurpose sheet. There isn’t a different one for a physical space versus transactional processes. It lets users rate the experience to be traced as high, medium, or low. It also leaves space for description of whatever the walker observes.

So the top row as I mentioned is an example. You can see here, it turned low green and that’s obviously if someone is entering whether it was high, medium, low in this template online which you’re generally going to be walking around just scribbling stuff in with pencil.

So let’s take a moment to clarify what we mean by observation. So that means firsthand, what do you see? It’s one person at a time although we can discuss group efforts later. It means documenting the work I performed. It means documenting the space as you see it, not what it should be but what it is. So you just document in reality.

On the flipside, observation is not following or shadowing people or customers. You’re not monitoring. You’re not evaluating people. You’re not interviewing people. And for some, occasional question is OK but we’ll come back to that.

Poll #2

So let’s get a sense for those who have conducted waste walks whether you focused on a workspace or a process. So this is our second poll and we are going to get an idea of are you more familiar with doing a workspace waste walk or doing a process waste walk. And this is for the 40% on the webinar who already have participated in waste walks. So go ahead.

And Tracy, do you have experience with this more than one or the other?

Tracy O’Rourke: No, because of the fact that I spend more time with people at the Green Belt level, I do a lot more process waste walks as well. But the workspace is so – it could be so easy to do. So I would see that it will be easier for people to do those in an area of workspace.

Elisabeth Swan: OK. So you’re airing on the area of workspace. So that’s what you see most often. So let’s see what these guys are experiencing most often. So let’s share the results. OK.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yup, 69% process waste walk. Yeah. Good.

3. Walk Assigned Area

Elisabeth Swan: Well, thanks guys. That’s helpful. So let’s put that off to the side and come back to the next step which is walk the assigned area. So for a workspace, the observer stays in an area and they walk the entire space often multiple time.

So some typical workspaces in general, supply closets, cabinets, storage area, those are very good areas to look at, how long a supply has been there, how are they set up?

In hotels, you got housekeeping carts, supply storage, blanket storage areas, hallways, all the back of the house areas.

In hospitals, you’ve got supply carts, nursing stations, medical supply, equipment storage/

Manufacturing, it could be work cells, single production area, loading area, of course, storage there too.

So the process observer is going to move from step to step as they write down what they see. It’s good to do a quick walkthrough first to understand flow and then go back and take time to observe each step.

So typical processes are places like the department of motor vehicles, how people move through the steps, align to the desk, to the photos, production of license.

Same for local government processes of getting first death or marriage licenses and certificates.

In a hotel, it could be watching customers flow through the check-in process, the turnover of rooms, banqueting event.

In hospitals, it could be watching patients, watching materials, watching equipment as they flow through the entire process.

Shipping processes at manufacturing plants, pick, pack, ship processes or any phase of production of plant.

So the group can be divided to observe both processes and workspaces and some of you are probably wondering right now, “Where would I go? What would I observe?? So in the case that you have what we might call an invisible process where everyone is head down in a cubicle, I would advise you to try a standard waste walk. See how it works. See what you find. Figure out what people can observe.

If a waste walk does not work then you should try conducting a process walk, also known as a gemba walk that I described earlier and I will come back to that. But once you got your assignment, it’s time to start observing the 8 wastes.


So, with the acronym DOWNTIME, the first waste is defects. So the definition is information, products, and services that are incomplete or inaccurate. And this results in having to discard a product or rework a service due to an earlier mistake or defective components. This means additional cost and a waste.

So transactional examples would be things like drop calls, errors on reports, you might see people reworking, misnamed, missing files, you might conduct searches and spot check, invoice errors, data input errors, engineering change orders. Those generally are indications of defects.

Providing the wrong meds or wrong dosage at a hospital, missing items on a surgical cart, you can inspect and see what’s there, what’s missing. You might see a nurse searching for an IV stand and not finding one.

In manufacturing, this is defective parts, scrap, what’s known as scrap or rework. Where does it go? Can you see the waste? This could be recalled automobiles.

Ageing assets like food that goes bad. There’s a company called LeanPath. We’ve highlighted them a few times. They are involved in large scale food services and they set up places like Google Cafeterias with scales so they can measure exactly how much food they are wasting and the act of measuring it obviously, you can manage what you measure. They have reduced waste by millions of pound of food.

So, is there a place that waste is collected? Can you see it? Those are good questions. So that is the first waste of defects.


Next, let’s go to the second waste of overproduction. So overproduction is defined as making more of something or making it earlier or faster than it is needed. It’s often nicknamed “just in case processing.” I kind of like that.

So this results in several forms of waste typically caused by producing things in large batches. Since customer’s needs can change during the time it takes to produce a large batch, this leads to obsolescence.

For manufacturing, over production has been described as the worst kind of waste based on the kind of cost involved in it.

So transactional examples. You’ve got printing paperwork before it’s really needed or when it’s not really needed to be printed. We’ve got purchasing items before they are needed. You might see people getting a year’s supply of something because it’s on a discount. Processing paperwork before the next person is ready for it.

In health care, it could be conducting unnecessary diagnostic procedures and test or requiring the same information on multiple forms.

I worked with an enterprise service group and they measured how much waste there was with print jobs. They did large prints with clients. And when they watched the process, they saw people rerunning a lot of sample upfront jobs and then tossing them up before running “the real job” and they measured that waste. They put a place to it and they stopped it because it wasn’t really serving any purpose. It was just a process step that they just sort of followed.

So, all wastes cost money. Manufacturing could have parts piling up with a slower downstream step. You can have the issue of building too many cars.

You got food waste I mentioned was a huge problem. Tracy has done lots of work with a group called Saving San Diego. They recognized the massive waste from over production of food at restaurants. So they’ve developed an incredible distribution program to turn waste into something of value to people who actually need the food. So that’s overproduction.


Now, the next waste is waiting. So waiting is defined as waiting for information, equipment, materials, parts, or people. Whenever the product or service is not being processed, it’s waiting, typically in a queue.

So traditionally, a large part of product or service life or the life of a product or the life of a service is spent waiting to be worked on. And old boss of mine had this great saying. He said, “People are 99% busy but things are 99% idle.”

So when you’re on that waste lock, where do you see sitting around? Because people are busy, right? They’re going to be moving and doing things. But stuff is idle.

So transactional examples like hospitals and doctor’s offices, he called them waiting rooms. The waste is in the title. In hospitals, you see people waiting on lab results, waiting for appointments.

In government processes, you see people waiting at the DMV, that’s Department of Motor Vehicles for those not familiar with some of our more torturous US processes.

Are people waiting for information from a colleague? Do you witness system downtime or system slowdowns? Are people waiting on information from customers? Are customers waiting to be checked in?

At a hotel gym, are people waiting for machines? I worked with the mobile phone team at Alberta Health Systems and most of their lead time for providing phones to hospital staff was waiting for the manager’s approval. Of course, no manager ever denied approval for a phone. So it was a total waste of time.

So the manufacturing side, you got also people waiting for approvals. You got products waiting to be shipped. Are machines down? Are there bottlenecks in operations? Does it take a long time to switch equipment to change over to a new product line?

So those are examples of the waste of waiting.

Non-Utilized Talent

And next, we get into that additional 8th waste of non-utilized talent. So this is defined as not properly utilized in people’s experience, skills, knowledge, or creativity. Organizations often underutilized the skills of their workers or they tolerate people operating in silos so they don’t share knowledge with each other.

And as I mentioned, this is an addition to the original 7 wastes but resolving this waste is key enabler to resolving the other waste because employees are essential to making a system of continuous improvement, a culture of continuous improvement.

So, transactional examples would be limited employee authority and responsibility for basic tasks. The description is management by command and control. People needing permissions. Employees unable to make decisions. You see people calling for supervisors.

In health care, I’ve seen issues where they were limiting someone’s scope of practice. With a little more training and a certification, nurses could be available for way more types of patient care. Do you see a suggestion box? Are there processes for taking ideas from employees?

Manufacturing, the same thing. We lose ideas and skills and improvement by not listening to employees. Employees get burned out if they give suggestions for improvement and no one is listening. You get high-skilled people spending time on task that don’t require their skills.

Watch what people are doing. Are they separated from one another in your processes? Are they working alone? Do they have opportunities to grow and learn?

So these are some classic examples of not utilizing employee talent.

Transportation (Touches)

Next waste is called transportation. And on a transactional side, we also call it touches. How often is this unit touched?

So the definition of transportation is the unnecessary movement of materials, information or equipment. So every time a product or a service is touched or moved unnecessarily, the risk – there’s a risk that it could be damaged, lost, or delayed, as well as becoming a cause for no additional value.

So transportation does not add value to a product or service unless it’s something the customer is willing to pay for like they are paying for a mover to help them relocate.

So in transactional, some examples are movement of applications and other documents from site to site or office to office.

In health care, having to transport patients long distances like from the emergency department to the cath lab.

In office, it’s emails being sent back and forth between departments. Watch for people transporting supplies to and from storage. Where do the carts in the hospital? Where are the IV stands stored?

In manufacturing, we got moving materials, parts, finished goods into or out of storage. Where do parts go? When are they delivered? Where does – what does storage look like? If it’s a pick, pack, ship operation, how often are things stored or moved? So transportation is moving things.


Next one is inventory. So the definition of inventory is accumulation of parts, information, applications, beyond what’s required by the customer. So whether it’s in a form of raw materials or work in process, otherwise known as WIP, or finished goods or services, this represents money and resources that can’t produce income yet. The longer a product or service sits, the more it contributes to waste. Your goal is a smooth continuous flow of work for huge process to ensure that inventory gets minimized.

So in the transactional world, you got orders piling up, data entry information waiting around to be entered, keeping data information longer than necessary. Are there filing cabinets you can look up? Stock piling of office supplies, how many ink cartridges are there? How often are things used? How much sales literature do you see? Is there tons on hand? Because that’s going to become obsolete. How big are the batches when processing transaction?

In hospitals, it’s letting medications expire and then having to sort of dispose of them.

When you’re observing anything with a shelf life, be sure to check the dates. When you’re working with a team – I was once working with a team at the Sheraton Manhattan and we discovered that about 500 armoires were being hold in storage. Now, Manhattan, the storage is not cheap. They were trying to understand why they were stored and we were told that they were too small for the current TV sets that the property owned.

Now, the odds that TV is getting smaller were not high. So they quickly sold off the armoires and got rid of that inventory.

So manufacturing, similar to that stock piling of parts. You got over stocking, any excess inventory, batch processing.

I worked with another team at Cisco Systems and they treated storage as a utility and they had large campuses with lots of buildings so people felt free to store unused equipment everywhere. But each room required electricity, heat maintenance. So once people saw the cost of storage and they started treating it as a utility, they thought twice about holding on to storage and storing things.

So that’s the waste of inventory.


And next step, we’ve got motion. So motion is defined as any movement by people that is not of value to the customer. So in contrast to transportation which results in damage and transaction cost associated with moving products and services, motion refers to the damage of cost inflicted on the product, what creates the product. It can include wear and tear for equipment or repetitive of the strain injuries for workers. So transportation movement of things, motion movement people.

The transactional examples are walking to and from copiers or central filing or fax machines or other offices. So clicking from screen to screen, from application to application.

In hospitals, the employees move from room to room, from floor to floor, from building to building more than they need to.

I worked with a physical therapist and occupational therapist at the Alberta Health Services. And they have to travel a long way to find a shared computer station to enter their notes after visiting patients. And that’s a time away from seeing patients so they had to figure out a way to have more stations so they had shorter walks.

What about nurses? Are they spending time looking for supplies? I had a candy story for someone who helped out at the emergency room in Alberta and he told me a story of watching an ER nurse going from one system, one application. She had to pull up the total of bed availability if she had to admit someone. And another application that she opened up to view the triage list like as patients were coming into the emergency room, where should she put them on the triage list? Who is at the top?

But she would miss that there was a bed available because it took her a while to get from one application to the other. So, they gave her a second monitor and she kept them both open. But she saw that as motion, unnecessary motion and it impacted patients getting admitted.

Manufacturing, very similar. Reaching for – looking for or stocking parts and tools, having to walk to other areas to find equipment and materials.

Good place to start looking is any racking system. How are people accessing items? How are people they moving in and around the space to find and store things?

The last one up is – we got a little bit fun with the motion there, moving around to get tools and stuff.


OK. So last up is extra-processing, and that is defined as any steps that don’t add value in the eyes of the customer. So it’s doing more to a product or providing more of a service than is required by the end customer. And it results in products and services taking longer, costing more to produce. It also includes parts that are more precise or more complex or more expensive or higher quality than really the customer is requiring.

So some examples in the transactional world, extra fields on a forum, extra formatting. I did some work with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare and one application had different formatting standards in different departments. So part of the processing time was devoted to reformatting that document every time it hit a different department.

So, do you see people reentering data into different systems? Do you see unnecessary or excessive reporting? Reports just get bigger and bigger and bigger. But who is using the information?

The same mobile phone team I worked with in Alberta Health Systems had a form and they had a space for a VP signature in addition to this manager who never denied it. But they didn’t need the VP signature anymore. But it took too long to get forms changed. They had to go into the Forms Department, which for everyone else, you just saw their shoulders sag when we mentioned the Forms Department. So they just didn’t bother. They just live with it, which meant a lot of people spent a long time trying to track down VPs all over the firm.

So take a look at blank form. Look at the completed forms. Are there fields or data typically going unused? Are there reports? How big are the reports? Who is leading them?

Forms and reports are good place to look.

Manufacturing. Are there too many product features? Too many featured choices. I can never figure out all the controls of the heating and cooling in my car and I do not know all the things I can do with my cellphone and I never will. This includes unneeded steps to process parts, inefficient processing due to poor tool and product design.

In a hotel, what services are customers using? What are they not using? Is anyone using the fancy new machine you just put in the gym or is it sitting there idle?

If you remember cellphones before, the iPhone, they got really, really tiny. I think they made a joke out of it in a film called Zoolander. They were getting tinier and tinier and they were getting more and more buttons. And then all of a sudden, the iPhone came along and just got rid of everything except for a single button and made it big so you could see everyone, everything on the phone.

So, looking at extra-processing, what do we have that we don’t need? So that’s the last of the 8 wastes.

Question for You

So I want to get a sense of the kinds of ways that you see most often. Those of you who you’ve heard these examples, what do you see? So let’s do that.

So go ahead and enter into your chat window what are the most common ways you see in your process area? And then Tracy, tell me what you see that they are putting in there.

Tracy O’Rourke: So when you say process area, do you mean like a physical place or in processes in general?

Elisabeth Swan: Waste in their process area. Waste in general. Which of the 8 wastes?

Tracy O’Rourke: OK. Good. Thank you. So I will say that the ones that I see because I work in transactional and service environment is a great deal. I see mostly the waiting and excessive processing. Those are the two that I think – that I see a lot of. And I’m watching this growing of the chat and a lot of people are saying, waiting, excessive production, defects, too many people working by themselves, not enough communication, over and redundant processing, too many people for approvals.

So these are some of the things people are saying. Queues for messages, excessive production, too much paper printed and reprinted, too many approvals, transportation, underutilized talent. I think they’ve all been mentioned.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah, but it looks like you saw some that were prevalent in those.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah, the defects, waiting and seeing a lot of and defects of course, and then also excessive production or excessive processing. Sorry.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. There’s one that I think some people have as an organization or norm on their emails, think twice before printing this email. I think people had a habit of printing things to make sure that they either remember them or had some documentation of what was being said. And I find myself over time realizing, I don’t need to print things. Like it’s rare now that I think I actually get something that’s in printed form although I still like books.

OK. Thank you for that, Tracy. And thanks to everyone for chiming in on what you guys see.

4. Document Observations

So the next step is to document your observations. So when documenting the 8 wastes, use the allotted time. You’ve got 30 minutes on average. You can do 45. Try to find an example of each. It might not be much of a particular waste. Write that down and select low or write down there low, not much. And when in doubt, look at the examples on the check sheet as a reminder.

5. Regroup & Debrief

All right. So documenting observations as you walk, as you observe, and then regroup and debrief. So agree on where and when to get back together. Each person gets to report out on what they saw. You can use sticky notes. You can assign a scribe to capture the findings. It’s great if you have a flipchart. You could use the wall too or you could enter it right into the computer, whatever works. So capture those.

Lessons Learned

And then it’s time to reflect on the experience. And a great way to collect your reflections is using plus deltas. So if you’re not familiar with that, you can divide a flipchart or a wall area into two columns. Pluses are what work, things you want to repeat. Deltas are things you would like to make – you would like to change and you, making the suggestions of what you’d like to see happen. So we never use plus minus. We move right to positive changes with deltas.

So typical questions to get adolescents learn, what was it like to conduct a waste walk? Were there any issues? Was anyone upset you were there? Would you do anything definitely next time? Did you miss letting someone know you are coming? Are there others interested? You could include them on the next waste walk. Did you notice an area or process you think warrants a walk? Put that into next steps. Did you want to walk this process again? Got a sense of how it operates at another time? Is the waste walk the right message you consider a process or a gemba walk?

6. Determine Next Steps

Now, it’s time for next steps. So based on the debrief, what do you want to add to the opportunity pipeline? What kind of effort would it take to tackle each selected opportunity? Some things might just be an immediate, no-brainer, just do it. Just fix it. Others might require more work, more investigation, permission.

You also want to be clear on who is doing what. So you don’t want to have one of those great moments, great experience, “It was a wonderful waste walk but we didn’t really document what exactly we were going to do and who is going to do it.”

So let’s discuss the different ways, the efforts, and the different sort of types of projects or types of efforts that might come out of a walk.

Types of Projects

So these are the classic different project types. You’ve got quick wins. Those are simple, you know what to do, the solution is obvious, the problem is obvious. It’s very contained. It’s in one area, one process, one department. People call those just do it. They might also call them fast tracks. You usually find lots of those on a waste walk. You could just fix it.

Next one is a process improvement effort. So you want to create an incremental reduction of defects or cycle time or cost. You don’t really know things are happening. You have to do some more digging. The solution isn’t necessarily obvious. You might have some ideas. You might call it the DMAIC project, a Lean projects or a PDCA effort or PDCA cycle.

Next one is process design. That’s where you see we got to have a whole new process. And that requires other methods called DFSS or Define For Six Sigma or DMAGV, Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify.

Next one is process redesign. Maybe you just need a complete overhaul of a process. It exists but it’s never going to meet customer requirement. So let’s just reengineer this whole process. And then you got infrastructure where you realize “We got to monitor more. We got to institute some measurements so that we understand our capability of meeting our voice of the customer or meeting our customer requirements. So that’s also called process management.

Approach Options

So those are the types of projects and there are different categories and there are different approaches. So these are things you guys are probably familiar with. Is it an easy just do it? But what if it’s not just an easy fix? It could be a PDCA cycle, full-blown DMAIC effort. It could be a kaizen. But if it’s a kaizen or a rapid improvement event, is it a one day? Is it a 2-day? Is it a 5-day? Maybe the next step is just go conduct a 5S in the workplace. We’ve got webinars and all these methods if you want to know more.

Pipeline & Action Plan

But now, let’s cover how to capture these different opportunities. These are two templates available to help with action planning. One is an opportunity pipeline template. It’s a way to capture opportunities no matter how small. This is just a segment of it here but it has got an opportunity description. It has got the source whether this comes from a frontline employee or the leadership suggest this?

What’s the financial approach? Is this a quick win, a DMAIC, a kaizen, is it a design, a redesign infrastructure? What’s the main benefit? Are we going to have a lead time reduction, cost reduction, defect reduction? Is this small, medium, large? What’s the focus area? Are we trying to improve customer satisfaction or margin improvement or productivity gain? When did we add this? Who design? What’s the status? What are the results? So as a team, you consider the games and the best approach.

Another template is a simple action plan. This seems really obvious but I so often see action items and action list and there’s no place where a person’s name is in there. There’s no deep for when to do it. Those are very big misses.

Waste Walk Structure – Recap

So let’s recap. You’ve got for a waste walk, you got number one, clear the way waste that we are getting permission, letting people know about the walk. On the day of, you pull everyone together for a team huddle. We get everyone prepared.

Next, every person walks their assigned workspace or a process area. Each individual documents the waste they observe. After the walk, you debrief. What did you find?

And the last, we need to come up with follow-up plans, next steps to eliminate waste since that’s the goal.


All right. So I want to address now this idea of variation. There’s more than one way to conduct a waste walk. So not all workspaces are the same, not all processes are the same. You might be in a hospital watching patient fall. You might be in a call center listening to people in the calls. You might be watching the mail center, sort, deliver mail.

Here are some variations. You could conduct the walk as a team. You could get a newbie, somebody who is an old had. You could get an outsider and do the same area together. Just keep it manageable. You don’t want to walk around with a baseball team. You can make it a series of blocks. You could vary the time of day. Get a better picture of what’s happening by running multiple walks.

You may want to ask a limited number of questions to clarify some waste. You have to prepare people she’ll be asking a limited number of question. If you’re going to do a lot of that then just turn into a process walk and prepare differently for that type of an effort. Because I mentioned earlier, some processes are invisible. Meaning, if there are lots of cubicles, it’s hard to see what’s happening.

As I said, experiment first. Try the waste walk but you might need to change your approach. You might need to conduct a process walk instead of waste walk. So that means actual interviews with the process team using a separate process and interview sheet for that. As I mentioned, there are separate webinars, videos, templates, and single modules all on facilitation orientation. So it’s always good to adapt the effort to suit your needs.

Waste Walk Tips & Tricks

And some tips and tricks. So, get permission. You definitely don’t want people to be surprised by what you do. And this is a positive effort. You always have people’s welfare in mind. You want to see with new eyes. Take the time to study the waste and think about, “What have I not been observing? What have I not been looking at?”

Find examples of each waste. Push yourself. So the kneejerk reaction, “Oh, there’s not really over production here.” Think about it. What could that be for this process? How am I interpreting over production or the waste you’re looking for?

Don’t try to solve everything. You’re going to pick and choose. Some things are obvious. Quick hits. Some things may have to go into the pipeline but try to get some successes out this. It’s incredibly satisfying to get momentum. It’s fun. People appreciate that they had a hand in it. It’s a great outcome of waste walks.”

And identify opportunities and plan. So remember, the goal is to eliminate waste throughout the system. So, waste walks should be a common ongoing effort. The result is that processes take less effort. They take less space. They take less capital, less time to provide products and services. And the resulting products and services cost less and produce less defect and they’re much more fun to work in.

Call to Action

So, as your call to action, we say go ahead, download the 8 wastes check sheet, the opportunity pipeline and the action plan. We will provide links to those when we post this.

The Yellow Belt training is a great companion before or after the waste walk. The training itself, is free and a great primer. You can also share this webinar. It’s also free and a great primer.

Practice. If you’d like to get a feel for waste walks, before trying them out at work, go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Bring a check sheet with you when you go to get a license or get your license printed.

If you’re attending a large banquet or an event, watch happens. Other there lines? Are their bottlenecks? How do people get food? Drinks? Go to a coffee shop. Watch the flow of customers. Where do you see people waiting? There are lots of different things you could do just to get a feel for how this works somewhere else before you try it at work.

Today We Covered

So, we talked about what is a waste walk? What are the benefits? We got examples of all of the 8 wastes. We covered a lot of different industries. Obviously, we didn’t cover every industry imaginable. But we told you how to conduct your own waste walk.


So, that brings us to questions and we’re going to give you a moment to type those in. And while you do that, we will tell you some stuff that’s coming up and some helpful information for all of you.

Getting Started

First off, you can learn more about waste walks by taking Green Belt Certification. Secondly, get more training. This webinar is a start of your journey into Lean Six Sigma. It’s a whole new world if that’s the case so you can learn more about waste walks and other Lean tools and concepts with more training.

Price Increases

This is something that’s going to be helpful for you. There price increases coming. So at the end of this month, prices on the White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt and Black Belt training and certification courses will all increase. We held off on this increase for a really long time but it has become necessary now for a few reasons. Most notably, we added new and improved templates. We’ve expanded and enhanced the Bahama Bistro case study application. We enhanced voice-overs. We expand the content based on learner’s feedback. We got lots of great deals for you guys.

We have new videos, new webinars and improved modules including PDCA standard work and on visual controls, kanban boards, A3 application and a lot more.

There are another activities and Q&A that help you improve your retention and recall, improved overall learning experience.

But Black Belt training now includes a project coach. You get a Master Black Belt as your guide, as you walk through your Black Belt projects. And you can save over $500 on your Green Belt if you register before April 1st and use the webinar coupon code, which I assume that I already passed that idea. The coupon code was on the previous slide. I’m just going to go back to that for one second. And that was 20WASTE. There you go. Easy to remember.

So use 20WASTE. So we always have your best interest in mind. We will let you know about these changes so you can walk in a little price so register today for your next belt certification before the prices changed. All right.

Go-Getter Membership

Go-Getter Membership, if you have not heard about that, that gives you access to all single modules. That is right now at $298 value but it’s going up because we are adding modules constantly. You get access to the Go-Getter forums. Talk with us. Talk with other users and experts. Get access to the Go-Getter exclusive webinars. This one is introductory but there are lots on leadership, intermediate, support tools. You get all of those and other good value, 20% discount on all your purchases. And you can get this for $199 for your access right now.

The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit

And also, The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit, Tracy’s and mine pride and joy. Get that on Amazon. Get that on paperback or Kindle.

Upcoming Webinar: April 18, 11am PT

Upcoming webinar, Tracy, give us a little preview of the joy we’re going to get from tidying up with Lean Six Sigma.

Tracy O’Rourke: Sure. So this is based on the TV show on Netflix, the very popular, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. And there’s a lot of techniques that she uses in her show to help people keep things tidied up at home. And we’re going to springboard off that, use that as a platform to talk about how we can tidy up at work with Lean Six Sigma and hopefully that will spark joy for people. So stay tune for that.

Elisabeth Swan: I’ll definitely stay tune for that. The podcast episode out right now, Wonderful Shane Wentz, Go Slow to Go Fast. Tracy, do you want to say a word about him?

Tracy O’Rourke: Sure. Shane has had a lot of experience in process improvement. He worked in the US Army, saved $96 million at the US Army. He worked for Nike. He worked for Siemens. And now, he is helping other people and organization try to improve their processes. So stay tune and learn about what Shane has learned in his travels for continuous improvement.

Success Story Webinar

Elisabeth Swan: Awesome. We’ve also got a success story, a little bit about Chris Franco, Tracy?

Tracy O’Rourke: So Chris Franco work in government. This is actually one of the first projects we did with him and he was at King County and they reduced this process, fun request, from 22 hours to 8 hours in two days. It was crazy.

We did a little process walk and everybody was on board after that walk and they made a decision right then and there and it’s unusual to see that rapid of an improvement and agreement in a government environment. So it was great. You should listen to his story if you’re having the same issues.


Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. No, he is great. OK. So that brings us back to questions. We’ve got a few minutes. Anything we don’t answer here will get posted in the forum. So Tracy, what do you see? What are some of the questions that are popping?

Tracy O’Rourke: So I’m sort of watching the – there’s a lot of responses and I saw some questions throughout. So Jessica had a question and her question was how can we know in a short walk, how long supplies have been stored?

Elisabeth Swan: So, one of them obviously, if there’s – it’s usually not daytime supplies. I don’t know. What’s your experience on that one?

Tracy O’Rourke: So sometimes you have to do a little research, right? And so, that the hard part is. Nobody can tell. So usually, we have to figure out, OK, what’s going on with some of these? And how do we actually monitor how long something has been there? You have to kind of figure that out because often, that’s the problem is we don’t really know how long something has been sitting there.

Sometimes I mean people have ageing reports on parts often or orders but it’s a little harder when you’re talking about office supplies or an area that have supplies. So I think something you definitely want to determine so that you can fix it.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. And that might be looking at who is ordering the products, what’s the last PO? What was the last order? When was the last shipment that came in on a particular item. So as Tracy said, I think that’s a little bit of digging there. But that’s a good question.

Tracy O’Rourke: OK. Another question, this was from Sean, “Have you guys considered producing and selling a small, wallet-size, plastic card listing the 8 wastes on one side and 5S on the other. They use engineering to identify utility marker columns. It would be cool to have them.” Great idea.

Elisabeth Swan: Great idea. I will put that in the product idea. I know we have little posters that we handed up. Those are usually popular when we go to conferences.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. And so yeah, we do have those handouts and you can print them and we have posters.

Alyssa wants to know, is there a template for a gemba walk?

Elisabeth Swan: Yes. There is a lot on gemba walks. There is a template for your interview sheet. It’s called a Process Walk Interview Sheet. You can get that free on our website. And then you just type in process walk. You will find videos and webinars, and single modules.

Tracy O’Rourke: OK. We also have, “What the difference between process improvement and process redesign. That wasn’t very clear for me. Sorry.” That was from Fabian.”

Elisabeth Swan: Oh, that’s great. This would be the last one. We’re up against the hour. But process redesign means there’s no incremental improvement that’s going to help us hit customer requirements with the current process. We need to fundamentally redesign the process in order to keep up with our customers need from us.

So it’s just saying, “We are not going to adjust look at the current process and we tweak it. We’re going to fundamentally design a whole new one. We have an existing one but we’re going to redesign it because that’s not going to cut it.”

Thank You for Joining Us!

And I think that brings us to the end of the hour. Thank you, guys, all for joining us. This was a fun one to do. I hope it was helpful. And we hope to see you next week for the Joy of Tidying Up with Lean Six Sigma.

Tracy O’Rourke: Thank you, Elisabeth. You did an awesome job.

Elisabeth Swan: Thanks everybody.

Tracy O’Rourke: Bye!

Elisabeth Swan: Bye!

View our upcoming webinars and join live so you can ask questions and let us know what you’d like to us to cover next. We’re busy building new webinars all the time. And we’re happy to know you’re busy too – building your problem-solving muscles – keep it up!

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Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Master Black Belt at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 30 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Marriott International, Inc. build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.

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