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When you Google the 8 Deadly Wastes, you’ll often find 7 of them. Historically, the focus has been on processing, whereas the 8th Waste focuses on the far more abstract, “People.”

To those paying attention, this should be a Waste to be concerned about. To those not paying attention, and focusing only on equipment and processes, this should be downright frightening.

Process improvement can’t be effective without broad staff engagement. Staff from the boardroom to the utility room need to be thinking about what’s feeling off or bugging them, and then need to feel empowered to speak up about it.

If you’re already actively engaging your team about Lean and Process Improvement, you probably have a good start on controlling this waste.


Every time a team member stays silent on an idea or shrugs off the urge to read a trending article in the industry, it’s Waste. You can’t measure it, because the Waste is losing the creativity that would build your company up, rather than only fixing the problems breaking it down.

Industries are being disrupted and uprooted one at a time, and if you’re in an industry that has, until now, been relatively unaffected, it’s a matter of when, not if. To survive, we must innovate and adapt, and do it constantly. Engaged people are the only thing that will get us there.


Are you hiring for skills or attitude? If you’re hiring for skill set alone (ie. lathe operator), you can measure the skills you’re getting and there’s often minimal training needed. That makes it pretty appealing.

Here’s what you don’t know when hiring for skills alone: that person may not take the extra step to challenge and push the business farther, and may just do exactly what is required, and no more. If you’re hiring to grow your company and compete on a new level, hire instead for attitude.

Tom Chandler’s KASH Box is a useful tool for balancing considerations of trained skills with built-in habits. The manufacturing workplace we’re moving towards is as much about creativity as process.

factory worker looking out window - two workers working on a project

Fixing It:

The responsibility for this Waste falls to management. Your team will react to the messages you send them. Here are a few usual suspects leading to Talent Waste:

  • Assigning staff to tasks they aren’t suited for: If they hate what they’re doing, they won’t engage with the processes enough to want to improve them.
  • Lack of Teamwork: If someone feels isolated or unsupported, they’re very unlikely to come forward with innovations. This is especially true if the atmosphere is competitive and they feel like someone will steal their idea.
  • Poor Management: “Aloof” is usually the best synonym for “poor,” In this case. It’s not the employee’s job to go the extra mile, it’s the boss’s job to give them the motivation, respect, and time to do so.
  • Insufficient Training: Training isn’t just how to work machinery, it’s also how we begin fostering the mindsets that will drive innovation forward. It’s also not something you do the first week then stop: training leads into education, and that should never stop.

See our previous article on Talent Waste here.