Learning to see

Fundamental #1 – possess
zero tolerance for waste.

Paul Poirier

August 17, 2020
4 min read

Employees have two jobs. Do their job and improve their job. Although most leaders focus significant time on getting employees to do their job, the lack of time spent by individuals on improving their job leads to unintended consequences. For example, C-Suite leaders having to be Fire Chiefs with the top management team all firefighters engulfed in handling the company’s daily fires.

The solution to the firefighter culture and many of the other challenges that business leaders face today, adopt a zero tolerance for waste. This means that everyone is accountable for identifying and eliminating waste. Waste is valueless activities that increase business cost and the time required to respond to customer demands.

Activities performed by individuals in an organization are classified into three categories:

Value added
Value enabling
Waste (Non-value added)

Value added activities are the activities employees do that a client is prepared to pay for. For example, putting ketchup and pickles on a hamburger ordered by a customer.

Value enabling activities are actions employees must currently take in order to meet the needs of a client. However, a client is not prepared to pay for this type of work performed in a business. For example, the preparation and submission of an RFQ or proposal to win a contract.

Waste is created when employees perform actions that add zero value to a product or service as defined by the client. Examples include, searching for information, poor quality products or services and delivering the wrong order.

Creating a culture where everyone has a zero tolerance for waste allows employees to be far more successful at doing the second aspect of their job, improve performance.

If you are a leader, you not only have the authority, you have the moral responsibility to integrate fundamental #1 – possess a zero tolerance of waste into your daily business practices. To succeed you must make sure to have a structured and formal mechanism for measuring your engagement and innovation levels.

Take the opportunity to make work more interesting for your people. Help them to work smarter, not harder. Eliminate the greatest form of waste found in most businesses, the waste of human capital. There is no limit to your opportunities and people’s creativity. People don’t really go to work to work, they go there to think and contribute. Employees want to be engaged and to innovate. Provide them with the right training and knowledge transfer, then watch the magic unfold. They will gladly adapt to your zero tolerance for waste mindset.


Paul Poirier – A senior advisor with EISA and ABATE.  Paul can be contacted via email: paul@abate.guru


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