Productivity and Emotional Balance

Productivity in manufacturing is affected by Taiichi Ohno’s Seven Wastes:

  • overproduction
  • waiting
  • transporting
  • inappropriate processing
  • unnecessary inventory
  • unnecessary / excess motion
  • defects

The elimination of these wastes lies behind most manufacturing process improvement regimes.

Waste comes in a different form in the service industries. John Seddon identifies this as failure demand – demand on your system created be your system’s inability to do something right the first time. Examples might be a follow-up call to find out where an order might be, a call-back to check on a piece of missing information, etc.

Failure demand generates as much, if not more, work as the original request but creates value for neither the caller nor your employee having to do the work.

That’s the key: creating value.

Both these focus on the system. And quite rightly, too. W Edwards Deming famously pointed out the 95% of quality issues are system-related not human-related. Others have pointed out that if you get the environment right, people will flourish.

But unaddressed system failures affect people in different ways. By not addressing the systemic issues not only are you damaging your organisation’s productivity at a system-level, you are also harming your people.

People are only productive when they are creating value. And they only feel valued if they are productive.

Conversely, if they are working in a system that generates waste, they become unproductive and feel unvalued. And this can have an emotional impact which may show itself as anything from frustration to withdrawal to micro-management. It depends upon the person in question.

Dr Edward Bach identified seven types of disharmonies, negative behaviour patterns, we can experience that, if not addressed, can lead to physical illness. We understand that stress can lead to eczema and ulcers, for example.

These disharmonies can easily be triggered by unaddressed system failures.

They are:

  • fear
  • uncertainty
  • insufficient interest in present circumstances
  • loneliness
  • over-sensitivity to influences and ideas
  • despondency or despair
  • over-concern for the welfare of others

Over the next 7 weeks, I will write about how each of these might manifest in an organisation, possible symptoms and what you can do about it.

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