May 12, 2017

Lean Six Sigma at Your Firm: Waiting

by Debbie Foster, Affinity Consulting Group, LLC

This week, we tackle one of the most frustrating wastes – WAITING. When you take the time to start exploring the benefits of Lean Six Sigma in your organization, and you start looking for waste, it will not take long before you see waiting, and you will probably see a lot of it.

We sometimes identify waiting by looking for the obvious bottlenecks in our processes. Sometimes they are a person in our organization, but oftentimes they are people and processes outside our organization.

Let’s start with internal waiting: email is a great place to start when it comes to people waiting. Think about how often you or your employees cannot move on to the next step in a process until someone internally answers an email. There are other kids of internal waste, like waiting on a copier to be available, waiting for mail to be scanned, waiting for a meeting to start, etc. When you are looking to reduce or eliminate the waste of waiting, internal waste is the best place to start.

Often, the external waiting is the harder waste to tackle. Whether you are waiting on the court/judge, opposing counsel or even your client, waiting causes delays in getting work done as efficiently as you would like. While your hands may be tied when it comes to reducing wait times when dealing with internal matters, you can do your best to make sure your follow-up is automated and that you set clear expectations whenever possible.

Lastly, be sure to practice what you preach and do your very best to make sure that whenever possible, no one is waiting on you! Next up, NON-UTILIZED TALENT.