The original seven wastes (Muda (Japanese term)) were defined by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System. These wastes have been often been redefined to better fit new organizations, industries, or external pressures.
One redefinition of these wastes for service operations by Bicheno and Holweg (2009) is as follows:
1. Delay on the part of customers waiting for service, for delivery, in queues, for response, not arriving as promised. The customer’s time may seem free to the provider, but when she takes custom elsewhere the pain begins.
2. Duplication. Having to re-enter data, repeat details on forms, copy information across, answer queries from several sources within the same organization.
3. Unnecessary Movement. Queuing several times, lack of one-stop, poor ergonomics in the service encounter.
4. Unclear communication, and the wastes of seeking clarification, confusion over product or service use, wasting time finding a location that may result in misuse or duplication.
5. Incorrect inventory. Being out-of-stock, unable to get exactly what was required, substitute products or services.
6. An opportunity lost to retain or win customers, a failure to establish rapport, ignoring customers, unfriendliness, and rudeness.
7. Errors in the service transaction, product defects in the product-service bundle, lost or damaged goods.
Most people that are familiar with Lean understand the term “Muda,” which signifies waste. It has been popularized by the common use of the 5s, which is used to create a clean, ordered, and disciplined work environment. I want to discuss the other two M’s that are often overlooked and somewhat unknown except to true Lean practitioners. The two terms are Mura and Muri. Mura is usually translated as “inconsistency,” and Muri translates as “overburden.” These two terms may be significant factors preventing us from “Just being there.” Muri (overburden) could also be defined as “unreasonable” or “impossible.”
Using marketing for an example to explain Muri, many organizations are event driven. Being in the community where their customers exist may be a secondary function. They think that the better and more spectacular the event, the more they will get out of it. This thought process is getting difficult to pull off. The bar has not only be raised but in recent times, there seems to be fewer and fewer customers. Being there is a better alternative. I am not saying we should do away with the events; I am saying create events that your typical day-in and day-out customers will appreciate. Do not only try to get new customers; grow your business from your existing traffic.
The other term was Mura, translated as “inconsistency.” How consistent is your marketing? Does your e-zine go out regularly? Are you consistently sending out your direct mail or using other advertising? Do you have a consistent theme in your marketing that builds continuously on the last message? Are your online and offline presences integrated with each other so that a consistent message is used? I believe Mura may be the single biggest reason that marketing fails.
Looking at these two M’s, you can see how quickly your marketing can be improved. Simple tactics, such as using a tool like a process matrix, can provide a quick evaluation of your marketing efforts. Try this: Isolate the consistent from the true inconsistent. Establish a routine process to do routine things in a routine way. Just be there. You may still have exceptions; just realize they exist and process them accordingly.