We all know this one well. The most downright annoying of the 8 wastes, waiting eats up profits by literally making people stand still.As a business owner, I think of waiting this way: every staff member has a clock attached to him or her, and every minute costs a certain amount of money. Salary (plus benefits) and productivity tick away as he or she waits.

The next time you’re in a meeting where 10 people are waiting for number 11, guesstimate what each one is paid, add about 35% for benefits and other costs, break it down into 15 minute segments. The final number will shock you, especially if you’re the one signing the cheques. From bathrooms to sales reports, we wait for things every day. While some waiting is unavoidable, much of it is surprisingly easy to eliminate.


Seconds Accumulate

While long periods of waiting are blatantly obvious, shorter periods of waiting, especially when built into processes that we repeat often, can be costlier, as well as nearly invisible. Examine your company’s repetitive processes, whether on an assembly line, at the cash register or as part of everyday in the office, and look for tiny periods of waiting. A few seconds where someone is waiting on the person before them, when multiplied by many thousands, accumulates into major waste.

Finding the waiting waste within processes can be difficult as it’s often almost invisible. This is a good opportunity to empower employees to take ownership for the efficiency of their own processes. Eliminating waiting waste that’s engrained into processes is sometimes easy and sometimes excessively difficult. You’ll need to decide, via calculation of time savings, how much time you’ll save by making a change. Do the calculation and you may be surprised by the savings you can attain and still come out on top.


Simple Solutions

Targeting obvious waiting waste can be an easy win for people just starting out with Continuous Improvement. If every person in the office runs for the coffee machine at the same time at break and spends an extra 10 minutes making coffee, invest in another cheap coffee machine so they can get back to their workstations on time. If you find yourself waiting in boardrooms for everyone to arrive to a meeting, ask people to put the meeting into their calendars and ping them 15 minutes before it starts. If your team is on time but the paid professional is late, stipulate beforehand that they will be paid from when they arrive and not from their appointed time.

Sending people out to meetings is an invitation to waiting waste, from sitting in traffic to waiting in offices.
Unless the meeting is important enough to demand face to face, consider video conferencing / online meeting solutions.