Turning “Waste” Into a Clever Acronym

wrote about Kaizen the other day on LinkedIn and the first comment was from Dr. Leke Agbejule, BPharm, MSc, PharmD, from South Florida:

Very well said. As a Lean Six Sigma practitioner I live & consult by the “Kaizen” philosophy. I like the mantra of Patrick Davidson which says “Eliminate Waste & Create Flow” My definition of WASTE is Worthless Activities that Steal Time & Energy! Kaizen bursts will improve efficiency & effectiveness of your processes!

While, Lean is sometimes spelled as “LEAN” (even though it’s not an acronym), I liked his clever turn of a phrase here.

What is waste? We could talk about the “eight types of waste” and bicker about “required waste” vs. “pure waste.”

But, when it comes down to it, waste is anything that doesn’t “add value to the customer.” In healthcare, we might say waste is any activity that is not moving a patient along in the care process.

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Waste is the activities that steal our time and energy. As I wrote about last week, we have to find ways to reduce waste so we can reclaim time and energy for nurses, rather than just hiring more.

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I created this graphic… feel free to use it and share it.

Worthless Activities that Steal Time & (1)

Leke says he coined the phrase himself, so I appreciate him sharing it. Check out his blog here.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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