Applying LEAN Thinking to Everyday Problems - Part 1:8 Types Waste

When I was first introduced to Continuous Improvement / LEAN methodologies, what impressed me most was the fact that this wasn’t just yet another theory that we were supposed to apply for an hour a day, but that it’s about a change of our mindsets and about building capabilities by letting people solve problems themselves. So I thought I would write a series of blogs about applying LEAN thinking to everyday problems. This blog is about explaining ‘waste’ – apparently less than 5% of what we do is value adding!

I have recently had some bad luck with my car and the headache of dealing with insurance companies when trying to sort out repairing the damage made me think what a telling example this all was for the 8 types of waste* from a LEAN perspective:

  1. Knowledge – When I reported the claim over the phone, I had to repeat my details multiple times as they transferred me between departments – I could have saved myself valuable time on the phone (tea time is not the best time of the day to spend on the phone with hungry little ones becoming rather impatient).
  2. Overprocessing – In the days following the accident, not only did I get several phone calls from their solicitors regarding getting compensation for uninsured losses but the same information also arrived in the post – overkill or what?
  3. Overproduction – Having to get two quotes – one for a claim via the insurance, one should the other party wish to settle the repair in cash – why can’t it be the same honest quote serving both purposes?
  4. Correction – I cancelled all the previous arrangements through my insurance when I was told by a friend that I could actually book the car in at a garage of my choice nearer my home.
  5. Waiting – I am still waiting for the insurance’s approval for my garage of choice.
  6. Motion – I then had to go back to my garage to have photos taken to send to the insurance to approve the quote.
  7. Inventory – all the paperwork that is not sitting on my desk, the garages’ desks, the hire company’s desk … waiting for the insurance’s approval.
  8. Conveyance – well, there is no conveyor belt in this case but figuratively speaking all the bits of information that have been passed over the phone and via emails between all the parties involved – lots of it duplicated and therefore unnecessary.

There is plenty of room for streamlining these processes … I should investigate if there are consultants out there already specialising in making insurance processes LEAN … But first I would like my car sorted please…

(* What is waste? Anything that the customer is not willing to pay for, anything that does not add value for the customer.)