Muda #1 - Motion

by AberCJ

by AberCJ

As you read this post you may want to laugh. I did. You may think it is a joke. I did. There was no way that eliminating a few steps while doing chores or working would benefit me, I thought. I was wrong.

Every waking moment of your time is spent in pursuit of work or leisure. You are either doing what you want to do because it provides enjoyment or the opportunity of relaxation or you are spending time working in order to accomplish a necessary task or generate income.

If you improved your efficiency in your work accomplishing more in less time, what would you do with your extra time? Could you increase your income or productivity or would you increase your leisure time? Maybe you would focus a little more on building your wealth?

One of many ways to improve efficiency is to reduce your amount of motion.

As discussed in the definition of Muda, every activity can be defined as value-added, incidental or wasteful.

  • Do you move too much, make too many trips back and forth, or travel farther than necessary to accomplish your tasks?
  • Ever have one of those days when you have gone upstairs or into another room 5 times in a row and still forgotten that one last item?
  • At times do you feel like a pinball as you bounce around the kitchen gathering ingredients for a meal?
  • Why do your feet get tired by the end of the day, was all the movement truly necessary?

Much or our motion is simply waste. Using the examples above and thinking about your own life, you are likely recall days that you moved a lot but fundamentally added no direct value with your movement.

I believe most of our motion is incidental. We enjoy a good meal because we walked to the grill in order to flip the steaks. While the act of flipping the steaks adds value to the quality of the steaks, the motion to get there was necessary but did not in itself add value. Some movement must be accepted, but does it all?

When is our motion adding value? The act of flipping the steak itself involves motion and adds value. There are many actions we make that add value but generally speaking each example will likely be short and easy motions that actually accomplish a step in a larger process.

There are many small motions in the act of cleaning dishes and much of it adds value by actually making dishes clean. The trip from the table to the sink with dirty dishes in hand would be incidental. The trip is necessary but does not directly help transform the dishes from dirty to clean. But then consider how many trips from the table to the sink were necessary. If you took many trips with only one item in each hand each time, you probably have waste of motion. If you strategically collect and carry a number of dishes to reduce the number of trips you have reduced your motion and therefore reduced muda.

How can you eliminate the muda?

One strategy is simply learning to recognize it, just thinking about what your doing and where you are going. Consider if each trip or motion is really necessary.

Another way to identify your waste of motion is to wear a pedometer. The average person walks at 2 miles per hour. If you walk 5 miles in the course of your day you have had 2.5 hours of time that potentially could be put to better use.

Consider ways to reduce your motion. Can you reorganize your tools or supplies so that they are within easy reach? Can you organize your day to reduce the number of trips? Can you avoid some trips altogether?

When you cannot avoid motion, can you reduce it? Just because some incidental motion is to be expected, this does not mean we cannot make this motion more efficient.

On the surface these issue may seem better suited to a personal improvement blog or one focused on organization. Then again, if you could improve your efficiency could you use the extra time to improve your income, increase your savings or focus on your investing?

I have applied this an other Lean principles to my personal and professional life with surprisingly positive results. Stay tuned for stories of how, some funny some sad. Want to learn more? Check back next week for the 2nd form of muda.

Can you share how you have improved your work or life by reducing unnecessary movement? Please leave a comment below.

2 comments to Muda #1 – Motion

  • anonymous

    In our case, we have to walk as much as we can. Our company has decided to give us pedometers with goals from 7500 to 10000 steps per day. This will motivate employees to move and become more active. Also this will reduce med expenses which is a good idea.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    While the health of a companies employee can go a long way in reducing its healthcare costs. They need to understand that there is also a cost associated with every step they take. Depending on the financial factors they would probably be better served to make the employees as productive as possible then use the increased revenue and profits to fund gym memberships or support other physical activities outside of the work environment.

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