Do you know your real value?

Some tips on how to focus on value creation in your daily work

Your value is your value creation capacity, ie your capacity to produce a change desired and paid by your customer. There is no added value without transformation and wastes are obstacles in your transformation process. Focusing on added value will streamline your workflows and ensure speed and flexibility.

Setting priorities requires clarity on how you create value, and for whom you are creating value. Are you clear about who are your “customers”, what are their expectations and more generally what are you especially good at? If you don’t, you will have a hard time focusing on doing what you are uniquely gifted for. Discovering it is an entire domain of study, and actually a lifelong journey.

Start with a simple but powerful approach: a straightforward Before / After comparison.

In any activity, ask yourself : What is the difference between before and after? If you have trouble answering, there are good chance that you are wasting your (or someone else) time.

Going deeper, you will easily learn how to to detect waste and increase your availability to focus on higher added value activities.

Consider your work as intellectually or physically processing raw material or data. Apart from being transformed into information (work in process) and finally into knowledge (finished goods) your raw material is being transported, checked and stored, generating movements and non quality (errors). The lean tradition, identifies 7 wastes, that you can record with the creed: it’s NOW TIME to eliminate waste. An additional 8th waste is the waste of human capital, the loss of skills, the non engagement of team players.

NOW TIME: the waste detector formula.

N for Non quality: defects, wrong data, rework. How often do you need to rework a report?

O for overproduction. Overproduction is creating a change that is not requested by the customer. It means that you did not understand what was your expected added value and basically worked for nothing. As soon as you have unclear requirements to someone, you will generate overproduction, resulting in useless transports, checks, delays,… creating a new series of waste. This is why overproduction is considered the “mother of waste”.

Let’s say for instance that Susan asks to Li a specific job to be done by next week. When reviewing together the output the week after, they both realize that Li was lacking a clear understanding of Susan expectations. Because Susan didn’t clarified her expectations, Li worked on a wrong assumption. All the effort she put in that specific assignment was used in vain.

Think about your own experience in the last 6 months, did such a story happen to you, or one of your colleagues? Consider your priorities, now. Did you clarify the expectations about the output, from your boss or to your team? If no, there is a chance that your effort will be wasted, resulting in a last minute change in priority in your schedule.

W for waiting, delaying decision, expecting approval, a specific document, part or just an answer from someone in vacation. How many purchase orders are waiting for approval in your system?

T for transport: emails just copying information, copy pasting from one document to another. How many time a week are you downloading or uploading CSV files to switch data from one application to another?

I for Inventory: data waiting: how many emails are stored in your mailbox, even as archive?. How many drafts pending? We are overwhelmed with datas, assuming that electronic format takes no place. It does : data centers are increasingly using energy, hence generating heat. This heat is sometimes used as a heating source, but generally requires cooling, using additional energy. Data storage has a cost, and an environmental footprint.

M for useless motions: If you are handling parts, a transport of parts usually creates a motion of people. In the office environment, it is the same, plus all the travel required in business. How is your workplace layout designed to minimize useless motions, and optimize adding value motions: coffee break, creativity places, walk and meditation?

E for excess processing. Excess processing it is to catch a fly with a hammer. How often do you plan deploying a massive plan, instead of running baby steps, proof of concept and letting room for trial, customization, and flexibility? One size does not fit all, and baby step, flexible and pragmatic approach will create much more impact by empowering teams to take part to the proejct, providing helpful feedback and engagement.

Now that you are fully equipped with a waste detector, go back to your busy schedule and start the fruitful game of waste hunting!

Originally published at on June 23, 2018.



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