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Muda — 7 types of Waste

The 7 Deadly Wastes (muda)

as defined by Taiicho Ohno (Toyota executive, 1912-1990)

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction of things not demanded by actual customers
  3. Inventories awaiting further processing or consumption
  4. Unnecessary over-processing (for example, relying on inspections rather than designing the process to eliminate problems)
  5. Unnecessary motion of employees
  6. Unnecessary transport and handling of goods
  7. Waiting for an upstream process to deliver, or for a machine to finish processing, or for a supporting function to be completed, or for an interrupted worker to get back to work...

And a few more types of waste...

  1. Confusion — missing or misinformation. Confusing goals & metrics.
  2. Unsafe or unergonomic work conditions
  3. Underutilized human potential — skills, talents, and creativity

These types of waste are not the direct targets for continuous improvement.
They are symptoms. Your team needs to identify and eliminate the root causes.

7 Wastes of Lean — Acronym

If you speak English, then

this Downtime Acronym might help you remember the Deadly Wastes


cartoon - falling



Non Value Add Over-processing




Employees underutilized

If English is not your native language,

then see our instructions for how to translate all of your Systems2win lean training into any language.

Muda, Mura, and Muri

Muda = waste (in its many forms)

Muda waste is often accompanied or caused by...

Mura = unevenness, overburden, strain

Muri = demand that exceeds process and equipment capacities

"The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize." ~ Shigeo Shingo

Office Examples of the 7 Types of Waste

Type of Waste Office Examples of Deadly Types of Waste
Defects Data entry errors. Other types of order entry or invoice errors. Any error that gets passed downstream — only to be returned for correction or clarification. Engineering change orders. Design flaws. Employee turnover. Absenteeism.
Overproduction Printing paperwork (that might change) before it is needed. Processing an order (that might change) before it is needed. Any processing that is done on a routine schedule — regardless of current demand.
Inventories Purchasing or making things before they are needed (think office supplies, literature...). Things waiting in an (electronic or physical) In Box. Unread email. Any form of batch processing (e.g. transactions, reports...)
Over-processing Relying on inspections, rather than designing the process to eliminate errors. Re-entering data into multiple information systems. Making extra copies. Generating unused reports. Expediting. Unnecessarily cumbersome processes (think financial statement period end close, expense reporting, the budget process...)
Human Motion Walking to copier, printer, fax... Walking between offices. Central filing. Going on a "safari" to find missing information. Backtracking back & forth between computer screens.
Transportation & Handling Movement of paperwork. Multiple handoffs of electronic data. Approvals. Excessive email attachments. Distributing unnecessary cc copies to people who don't really need to know.
Waiting Slow computer speed. Downtime (computer, fax, phone...). Waiting for approvals. Waiting for information from customer. Waiting for clarification or correction of work received from upstream process.
Confusion Any missing or misinformation. Any goals or metrics that cause uncertainty about the right thing to do.
Unsafe or unergonomic Office work conditions that cause carpel tunnel, eye fatigue, or chronic back pain, or conditions that compromise the health and productivity of workers in any way.
Underutilized human potential Restricting employee's authority and responsibility to make routine decisions. Having highly paid staff do routine tasks that don't require their unique expertise. Not providing the business tools needed to perform and continuously improve each employee's assigned work. Not trusting your people to stop production to stop and fix a problem (jidoka). Not trusting your people to be responsible for the cleanliness, maintenance, and organization of their own work area. Not trusting people with a flat organization structure of largely self-directed teams. Not expecting (and measuring) every person to contribute to continuous improvement.

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How to eliminate the 7 forms of waste

Excel templates to identify and elimate the 7 types of waste

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Bookmark = muda

Muda: Type one vs. type two

Waste is further categorized as:

1) Type one muda — pure waste

Pure waste. Adds no value and can be eliminated immediately.

"That's embarrassing. Let's stop doing that."

2) Type two muda — "non value add"

Adds no value, but is required for the way things are currently done.

Examples: inspection, paperwork, and most of the above types of deadly waste

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Also see the definition and training for 'Value Add Time'

in the online lean dictionary

that ensures that all of your widespread team members
are using the same definitions, formulas, and understandings
of lean terminology as they use their tools for process improvement

User-defined types of waste

In addition to the classic 7 deadly types of waste,

Value Add Pie Chart

several of your Systems2win templates
also empower you to enter your own user-defined subcategories

that your team finds most useful for analyzing
the unique types of waste found in YOUR process

See the online training for your


Process Observation Worksheet Yamazumi template Standard Work template Value Stream Map

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