One Man’s Trash

…is another person’s treasure, as the saying goes. Lean is about making effective use of all resources we are wasting whether time, money, information, material or the creative capabilities of people.

Too much focus is given to reducing inventories and the time and motion of people since improvements in these are two of the most visible financially. Many have pointed out that the greatest waste is that of human creativity, human potential. Indeed, it is the difference of making one’s way with the lights on or off.

The best measure still of the so-called 8th waste is to focus on the condition of the other seven types of waste. The 8th in itself is not measurable. The waste of human creativity can be linked to the amount of stuff you throw out, literally or figuratively. The wastage within any operation is a reflection of the amount of thinking that has gone into designing, managing and improving an operation. Today the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra has become common within public and private workplaces. Creative conservation requires further root cause analysis of why the waste exist so that the overall volume of trash, recycled or not, can be continuously reduced. This is where human ingenuity comes in.

Another “R” word we can add to the creative use of waste comes to us from Pakistan, courtesy of our friend Junaid from Procon Engineering. The word is “repurpose”. This is similar to recycling but does not require processing the waste material down to its components. Instead the waste material is reused for another purpose with minimal additional energy or materials. The following is a great example of this. The pictures speak louder than words.

Note the white welding wire spools

Collected and stacked

Cushion added

Put to use for a new purpose

We often talk of “pride in workmanship” or the sense of satisfaction we gain from building an object or an outcome that is beautiful, functional or good. We can add to this the pride wasting as little as possible in the process of achieving a good outcome. When using our creativity we should strive for elegance in the process as well as the result.
Junaid gives us these words of encouragement:

Ever seek creative utilization of waste in shop floor, office and your home.


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