You can’t automate the process of finding and fixing Deadly Waste. It’s case by case and pops up anywhere.

If you research the Deadly Wastes, you’ll often find just 7 of them. Talent was added last, and still doesn’t get the credit it deserves. We can nitpick about fighting Waste all we want, but engaged workers are the only tool to get you there.



Your construction project is an ecosystem of interconnected partners, each relying on the other to be able to do their job. The paradox is that while you’re thinking about the overall project health of the project, they’re thinking about getting their part done, so they can move on.

Lean Thinking prioritizes value of the customer over individual stakeholder needs. Encourage your contractors to feel more engaged in the process, and to think of their list of tasks as a list of commitments to perform, in order to add value. It’s a subtle shift with massive process improvement implications.


It Starts at the Beginning:

Empowering your workers to fight Waste starts at the beginning. Hire people for their attitude and outlook, not just for the skills they come pre-packaged with. Having a knack for quick framing won’t matter much if they don’t notice the defective measurement that will require a costly fix down the road.

Make the kick-off process more than a “Hu-ah” and handing out documents. Talk about the Wastes and give everyone the right to be a leader in identifying them, no matter how small or who may be at fault.

Everyone plays a skills-based role, but that should only be a part of their investment. Hire them as individuals first, skills second, and continue respecting them for the ideas they bring forward. If workers don’t feel respected, they’re unlikely to think about what’s bugging them, let alone report it. When a worker has an idea, engage them in dialogue about the pros and cons. Don’t brush them off with, “Thanks for that,” and walking away. Respecting them by listening to them will incentivize them to talk to you and is more likely to save you costly Deadly Wastes.

Of course, it’s not all up to you. Train your foreman and other managers to respect their crews in the same way. Put real consequences in place for workplace disrespect, no matter who it’s between.

Teamwork on Construction Site - Talent Waste in Lean Business

The Importance of Talent:

When it comes to Waste, materials and processes get the lion’s share of attention. But our businesses were born, built, and grown on human creativity.

Talent Waste is the hardest to measure. We can measure other Wastes by what we throw away, spend on extra time, and have to repair. The best way to measure Talent Waste is to not ask what’s costing your business, but to ask where your business could be if your workers’ Talent wasn’t wasted.

An engaged, vigilant workforce is the only tool you need to crush the Deadly Wastes and open new realms of profitability, but you can’t legislate or delegate engagement. It starts from the top and must continue to flow from the top, no matter how bad of a day you’re having.

See our previous article on Talent Waste here.