The 9th Type of #Lean Waste – Tape?


I was preparing for the Gemba Academy webinar that I'm doing next Tuesday (you can still sign up) on  Stories about the Eight Types of Waste in Healthcare.

I found this fun picture from about 2008 that I decided to incorporate into my talk. I was leading some 5S work in an X-ray area, where the focus was on preventing delays to patient flow by making sure staff had the right supplies available in the right locations.

The team played a prank on me while I was away from our conference room. :-)

I dubbed this the 9th type of waste… wasting tape to do unnecessary “5S” type work. Putting tape around my laptop wouldn't be Lean, it would be L.A.M.E.

LeanBlog 9th Waste - Tape

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Michael Lombard says

    For a second, I thought that was a photo from your home office. Do you still have kanban for your paper towel supply? :)

    1. Mark Graban says


      Yes, the kanban bin sizes are a bit smaller, since we’re in a condo, not a house, and I don’t have room for those Costco mega packs.

      So, I go to the store more often!

  2. Natalie Sayer says

    OK, Mark, maybe in this instance LAME, but way back in the day, I did something similar in my office to guide the nightly cleaning crew. I was tired of my workplace being a mess when I would arrive in the morning. It actually worked…so while I think tape is funny as a waste, I have to say it can be useful depending on the context. :-)

    1. Mark Graban says

      It’s not L.A.M.E. if it’s helpful to you… and it sounds like the tape was your choice and to your benefit… so great! :-)

  3. Pete says

    I completely agree, but it depends where one is in the journey.

    I once taught a group the fundamentals of Lean. For folks in that group, first learning about Lean and the application of 5S might inspire them to give it a shot. And, if the application is something silly such as applying the “every thing has a home and every home has a place” for someone’s desk, then at least they’re applying the principle.

    Silly application, but we need to celebrate the effort.

    1. Mark Graban says

      I see your point and I try not to be too hard on people who apply a tool in a way that doesn’t really solve a problem.

      If a person taped off their own desk… well OK, cool, they are trying. I would celebrate the effort and realize they will move on to more meaningful improvements. Being discouraging doesn’t help anybody.

      Now, if a manager or a “lean improvement specialist” FORCED people to tape off their desks, I might challenge them a little more and ask “what was the problem being solved? did this solve a problem?”

      So I see a difference between initiating something and forcing others to do something. It’s more “L.A.M.E.” when it’s forced in a topdown way.

  4. kopstar says

    A classic example of people deploying a tool to fix a problem that probably doesn’t exist without understanding the principle the tool was designed to achieve.

    Sadly the classic western approach to Lean deployment destined to fail.

    1. Mark Graban says

      It *would* be an example of that, but it was a joke… a prank. I think I taught the team well that you don’t improve things by merely putting tape around everything.

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