Lean Waste 3: Motion

Eradicating Waste: The 7 Muda (+1 for the road)

Unlike transportation, motion is internal. It may be you as the worker, or the item itself. This is especially pertinent when things come back and forth internally, but also if staff move around items or move around the floor. This motion doesn’t take zero time and is also often associated with putting thing down and picking things up again, which in itself, generates more motion. For every thing you put down, you pick it up again. So the less you put down, the less you pick up.

In addition, if you’ve got several things contending for your time. It’s too easy to put down and pick up several things, each overlapping the last. Causing cluttered desks, cluttered work areas, health and safety hazards and even stress on one’s body. Solving the motion problem solves all these naturally.

Tip: watch work travel around your workplace or team. Watch what people do when they receive the work. Do they walk to get it or pass it on? Do they pick up tools to use on them? Do they change applications to process the work or part of it? If so, there may be several stages combined into one.


Following my talk at Northern Change Facilitators on the 14th April 2016, as promised, the first in a series of blogs on the 7 Lean Wastes, which I am writing and publishing each day for the next 7 days. If you want to check out the session slides I used on Lean Enterprise experimentation:

Lean systems’ roots go back more than 70 years. Made famous by Toyota in the 1970’s and 80’s it’s the centrepiece of lean thinking in today’s world. It aims to improve quality, increase efficiency and efficacy, reduce waste and continuously improve (based on the principle of kaizen) when don’t well, it’s an extremely elegant solution. Get it wrong, and you dishearten forever. Needless to say, it’s benefits can be amazing, if you do it right.


Ethar Alali is Speaker, Analyst, CEO and Chief Engineer and Lean EA at Axelisys, specialising in providing innovative lean enterprise advice to blue-chips, inter-governmental organisations and SMEs. Connect on LinkedIn, follow on twitter.