Often the reason for waste is that you do things more complicated than required. In an earlier post, I said ironing underwear was over-processing. In that case, it is not that the processing is too complicated. It is just not needed at all.
Over-processing is one of the wastes, which are very difficult to see in the first place. Nevertheless, the definition of over-processing is simple:
Have you ever watched people doing things, thinking “I could do this more easily”? Chances are you discovered over-processing of somebody else. To me this occurs very often when I see people struggling with computer programs because they have to use five clicks in menus instead of one hotkey access.
Reconsider my advice to reduce rework waste, and the saying “measure twice, cut once.” What would you say if it was “measure three times, cut once” or “measure ten times then cut?” If you have not discovered a false measurement after two or three times, how big is the chance that more measurements help?
Diligence, also mentioned in the rework section, is similar. If you overdo it, results will not improve any more. This is why absolute perfection of results is not the aim.
With a level of good enough you need to define, of course (or your boss, or your spouse, etc.). Checking if you locked the doors of your car more than once is over-processing. At work, a typical case of over-processing is reviewing results over and over, although no errors have been detected so far. In general, be it at home or at work you do should at least add a little of value.
Long streaks without added value are a typical symptom for over-processing. However, watch out: sometimes results of over-processing exist, and you have a feeling that they add value (like the umpteenth report to your boss). Until you discover that nobody reads the reports. Congratulations, in that case you have detected not only over-processing but also over-production.
Also I am promoting the use of Lean practices at home in this blog, I also want to give a warning. When you carry it to the excess, there are some risks:
- You confine yourself into the limits of your own processes. When that happens, you are over-processing.
- You lose agility. A successful implementation of Lean at home should embrace it. I suggest you supplement Lean Self with Tony Khuon’s Agile Lifestyle.
- You could develop a neurosis or start to look like an anal-retentive nutcase.
The solution for this is the application of the Pareto Principle.
There is a direct way of measuring over-processing and an indirect approach. The direct approach is not really exact, but it can help at least to see the waste. Before doing something, estimate how long it should take. Afterwards, check how long it took. If the estimation was too low, you might have over-processed.
The indirect approach is much more exact and repeatable: Measure waiting waste, inventory waste, and motion waste for tasks that are candidates for over-processing. The bigger the waste, the higher are the chances that the root cause of these indirect wastes was over-processing.