Most of us are familiar with the seven wastes in Lean. But often we hear of an additional eighth waste – Underutilized Skills and Talent. What contributes to it, and how can we improve?

To address this, we will hear from two Lean experts and then the authors of a recent research article.

First, in a video from Lean Construction Leaders, Perry Thompson, Lean Executive Director at Parsons Electric, and George Trachilis, Lean Executive Institute, discuss the eighth waste with a focus on the construction industry.

Perry says go to where the work is being done, ask the right questions, and listen to the people with the intent of improving and making it better for the workers. You must also align the right people with the right process. Not doing so is a waste.

The two questions to ask workers on a “continuous improvement walk” are: What is frustrating you? And what can we do better?

You can view Perry’s and George’s video here. 

Next, Todd Hudson, Lean operations practitioner, Six Sigma Black Belt, and founder of the Maverick Institute covers the topic with a focus on the role of training.

Todd defines waste as “Anything that doesn’t directly help a learner perform better on the job.”

In particular, unused talent means people with expertise are excluded or unknown in the organization.

Too much focus on professional training is often the issue. Also, expertise outside the organization is not being utilized: the not invented here syndrome.

Training needs to harness the wisdom and knowledge of the entire enterprise from customer to supplier.

You can watch Todd’s video here.

Finally, in an April 2019 article: The Eighth Waste: Non-utilized Talent, the authors M. Brito, A.L. Ramos, P. Carneiro, and M. A. Goncalves highlight the eighth waste and its components.

Respondents to the researchers’ survey (production workers, managers and executives), answered that the eighth waste is related to the lack of one or more than one of the following components: rewards, recognition, justice, evaluation, motivation, goals, self-esteem, knowledge, and resources.

  • Rewards: “The reward system may play a role in increasing employees’ motivation to work more effectively, increase productivity within the company or compensate for the lack of commitment, if a  reward is related to employee’s performance.”
  • Recognition: “ …recognition increases ensuing performance substantially, and particularly when recognition is exclusively provided to the best performer.”
  • Justice: “The employees need a system of pay and promotion policies that they understand to be fair,  unambiguous, and in line with their expectations.”
  • Evaluation and Feedback: “Performance  evaluation  is  described  as  comparing  the  performance  of workers  and the work, standards, and  managing  the  necessary activities in a systematic way to attain these standards.”
  • Motivation: “…positive relationship between intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, and job performance.”
  • Goals: “Goals with feedback generally increase worker satisfaction and productivity.”
  • Self-esteem: “The effects of personnel management policies, which emphasize job satisfaction, could potentially lead to developments in levels of health, happiness, subjective well-being and workers’ self-esteem, all of which are factors that can improve organizational performance.”
  • Training and Knowledge: “Training programs are helpful for companies to emphasize the knowledge, expertise and ability of workers.”
  • Resources: “One of the reasons why the workers do not use their full talent is that the organization did not provide them with the necessary resources to develop the work in an optimized  way.”

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