What is Waiting Waste?

Train Station Clock. This image is CC0!

Waiting is a special case among all waste types. In most cases, the victim of this waste is not responsible for it in the first place. This makes its elimination more difficult, because one nearly always is dependent on the cooperation of others to reduce this waste.

Waiting is the time between an issue coming up and solving it.


I want to give you an example which contains both self-inflicted waiting and waiting for others. Suppose you are having some days of next week. For months, you have not been able to decide which kind of vacation you want. In fact, you have not thought about that most of the time and deferred the decision until the last minute. This is self-inflicted waiting. Until today, you have not seen any problems arising from this.

Now you decide you want to go camping in the mountains. Thinking about it your ideal type of camping would be with a camper-van. However, at such a short notice, you do not get a rental.

First damage: You have limited your options by unnecessary waiting. So you decide to get a tent. All of your friends and neighbors either are on vacation already or do not own a tent you could borrow.

Second damage: You need to buy a tent for a single occasion. You check all options to buy one online, and you find a nice tent for 100$. You order it instantly, seeing that the delivery date will be a tight match to your plans. You wait for delivery, but it is not in time.

Third damage: Waiting for others is too long (this time, the actual waiting is not self-inflicted). So you go to a shop to buy a tent. You pay 200$ for a tent which is much bigger than you need.

Fourth and fifth damage: Over-production (bigger tent, stretching the definition a little, and extra cost). When you finally start your vacation, you desperately need it, because you wrecked your nerves about that camping issue.

This is the sixth damage. In the long chain of damages and secondary wastes, the root cause was postponing a decision, which is waiting waste.

By the way: The decision you did not make was what is valuable for you. Looking at it from this angle: you failed with self-empowerment, waiting waste only being a symptom, not the root cause.

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