The Monday Mover

Delivering high-impact career tips every Monday morning. 

TMM #009 Free up valuable time by eliminating waste in your work processes

Aug 16, 2022

Productivity hacks are a sham, here's what to do instead. 


TMM# 009: Free up valuable time by eliminating waste in your work processes

Productivity hacks are a sham, here's what to do instead.

I don't believe in productivity hacks.

Most of them are just designed to make you feel bad.

We all have time constraints. We all have work constraints. We all have unglamorous work that needs to be done to keep the train moving. 

We can't always control what we must do, but we can control how we do it. 

And I'm not referring to mindset.

I'm not going to tell you to slap a fake smile on your face and suck it up sally. Mindset IS important, but today I'm sharing with you how to lean your work out. Cut all the fluff and garbage out. Free up more time. You owe it to yourself to deliver quality work, without sacrificing precious time.  

Last week I shared with you how to create a SIPOC to quickly identify and understand the major components of a work process. If you haven't had a chance to read it, you'll want to take a sneak peak before we dive into this week's process improvement tool.

It is the foundation of our next topic: lean value analysis.

Let's get started.

1. Lean is the systematic elimination of waste in a process 

It's a way of thinking about your work in terms of creating much needed value with fewer resources and less waste. 

Working lean means reducing:

- time

- redoing things because of a mistake

- required effort

- busy work

- waiting

This allows you to focus on the important stuff.

2. How does it work in real life?

To work lean means that you have to be able to identify which activities in your work add value and which activities do not. 

What is value?

  • Value is always defined by our customer (the person or team on the receiving end of our process)
  • It is never defined by us
  • If we have a different view of value from our customers, then we run the risk:
    • Not delivering the service our customer wants
    • Spending time and money doing things our customer doesn't care about

The first step in setting up a lean process is to fully understand value from the eyes of your customer. 

3. Start by defining value-added activities 




If an activity in your process does not satisfy ALL three of the requirements above, it is by definition non value-added (NVA).

This doesn't mean you need to eliminate it right away. All processes will contain some non-value added activities. Some may even be very important or necessary (regulatory requirements, legal requirements).

You will never be able to eliminate all non value-added activities, but we want to reduce the ones we don't need as much as possible.  

Eliminate what you can and streamline the rest.




4. Start with your process map

Draw out a work process that you want to make easier.

Write down every step in the process. Capture how it actually works today, not how it is "supposed" to work. 

Using the definition of value-add above, color code your process:

    1. Value-added

    2. Non Value-added

    3. Non Value-added, but necessary

Once you have a colorful map, you can quickly see how much waste there is in your work. 

An easy way to think about it:

    Green = keep

    Red = eliminate

    Yellow = optimize 

Pro-Tip: Review steps are usually red. Get the needed people up front, get it done, get it right the first time. 




This is an example of a value analysis done for a process to develop new environmental regulations. As you can see there is a lot of waste in the process. 


This is what it looked like after we applied improvement techniques to all the yellow and red steps.

We cut down the processing time from over a year to less than 45 days.


That's all for this Monday. 1 simple career growth tip. 

If you enjoyed this newsletter, the best compliment you could pay me would be to share it with one person who you think would benefit from it. 

See you again next week.


p.s. I love newsletter suggestions. If you have a topic you'd like me to cover, just reply to this email and tell me about it. My digital door is always open!


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