If you saw the film “The Founder,” you may recall the scene of Roy Croc sketching out the most efficient kitchen possible on a tennis court. It hammers in the Lean message that waste is in the details. 

For McDonald’s, an extra step taken in a simple process represents significant waste. It’s not how small the waste is, it’s how often the waste occurs as part of the process. 

We all have repeating processes. Some we do weekly, and others we perform many times per day. When a process becomes a habit, waste creeps in. 

Motion waste is about moving a step or ten too far and making too many tiny trips. It’s about killing your focus every time you leave your desk, and the minutes it takes to get that focus back. 

This insidious form of waste lives in the details. And the waste adds up. Often, the only way to lay that waste bare is to see it with your own eyes.

Here are some tools to do that:


Visualize the Movements

Excessive motion is universal. Whether you’re going for a photocopy in an office or a bag of nails on a construction site, it all adds up.

Try this exercise and save some money: 

Visualizing the movement will yield clarifying details almost immediately. If the endpoint is in the center of the cluster of starting points, it’s going to produce less motion waste than if it’s a lonely outlier off to the side. 


Spaghetti Mapping

Every time you walk somewhere, it’s in a line. A spaghetti map is as simple as visualizing all the lines that accumulate in a day. Here’s how to build one:

How to Fix it 

You don’t need excessive capital spending to trim out waste. You do need a willingness to change, awareness, and effort—and these can be hard resources to pull together!

Luckily, waste-turned-to-habit is usually easy to change once we see it.

Visualization exposes our daily hidden waste. If the photocopier is the most popular destination, but it’s on the other side of the room, and the fax machine is in the middle collecting dust, why not switch them? These are the early wins that, like McDonald’s efficiency machine, add up over time.

Bottom line: motion waste is invisible and ingrained in our habits. The only way to see it is to force ourselves to stare it in the face.