“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part” – Tom Petty
I won’t make you wait. Today is the W in Tim Woods. Waiting. Everyone knows what waiting is. Something is not ready – a person, a part, a computer program, anything. And unlike some other types of waste, this one is easy to spot.
I worked in IT for many years. I know all about waiting. And I know about the other end, hoping that IT can improve computers and programs to make them run faster. Because it is more than just annoying. Even a 1 second delay in a screen refresh is enough time for your mind to wander into another line of thinking. For example, imagine you are a doctor or nurse and you want to look up information on a patient. If it takes 10 seconds to pull up the record, that does not seem long. But it is more than enough time for the care provider to start thinking about their other patients, to mentally start listing other tasks they have to perform, to wonder what is for lunch. Then, getting back to the patient takes more than the 10 seconds. Research has shown that it can take up to a minute to mentally switch between tasks. If you don’t believe that, think about the last time you were deep into a task and then took a phone call on a completely different topic. It took a little while to figure out where you were when the phone call was done.
This applies to any environment. Keeping customers waiting on the phone while looking up their information is not fun for you or them. Not being able to send a customer home with a part they really need because you cannot get it right away makes customers visit other stores.
Some things to consider when you have identified waiting:
- Do you have all of the information and material you need?
- Is there confusion on the part of staff on how to handle certain situations?
- Do you have approval requirements that can be mitigated some other way?
- Is your technology and equipment up to date?
- Are roles and responsibilities clearly understood?
It will be easy to identify waste due to waiting. It will be harder to remediate it. Just like the other wastes, look at your processes as a whole.
And don’t wait. Spending 3 hours to save someone even 5 minutes a day will pay for itself in about 7 weeks. And they will thank you for it.