Today is the day of the M from Tim Woods, standing for Motion and the process waste caused by too much of it.
I do some things in my life that add extra motion, like parking far from entrances and walking around town if I have several errands to run. But in a work environment, when I am trying to be as productive as possible, I want to eliminate motion as much as possible. Waste is created when people or tools are moved beyond what is required. For instance, in a hospital environment, if the lab and radiology departments were far from the emergency room, the time spent moving patients or specimens only delays treatment. Trips to a printer, even extra clicks on the computer searching to find files or information, constitute movement waste and time lost. Additionally, there can be staff frustration because they cannot find what they are looking for.
As with most kinds of wastes, this one can be hard to find. Most hospitals have their labs and radiology departments centrally located for quick access. To find motion wasted inside of the departments, it is usually required to follow someone right through the process and even map it out on a piece of paper.
- Determine your most common tasks and make sure that all of the tools to do them are convenient.
- On the computer, use bookmarks and aggregate commonly accessed files and forms in a few, well-organized, pages of links.
- Try to determine if there are any steps that are being done sequentially that could be done at the same time by different people or resources.
- Use technology to automate processes, like transferring files or entering routine information. Even pre-filling default fields on electronic forms can help with that.
- Collaborate with your customers and suppliers, internally and externally, to make sure work is being done at the correct step. Many times, especially with technology changes, moving a task to a different person or work area creates huge efficiencies.
Take the time to walk though your processes (commonly referred to as Gemba) and identify wasted motion. Make sure to do this as a team and in a positive way. Include the person doing the work to give them ownership. And if work is being moved from one person or group to another, be clear about why that is happening.
It will be time well spent.
For more information on Gemba, follow this link to Wikipedia.