Skip to main content

Lean Tools, Training, and Systems

Muda — 7 Wastes of Lean

The 7 Deadly Wastes (muda)

as defined by Taiichi 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 extra 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...

8 Types of Waste

In recent years, various authors and experts have expanded the list to their own version of
'the 8 Wastes of Lean', with the 8th waste being one of the following:

  1. Under utilized human potential — skills, talents, and creativity
  1. Unsafe or unergonomic work conditions
  1. Confusion — any uncertainty about the right thing to do.


8 Wastes of Lean: Downtime

If you speak English, then

this Downtime Acronym might help you remember the 8 Deadly Wastes





Non Value Add Extra Processing




Eschewed Talents (Under utilized Employees)

cartoon - falling

If English is not your preferred 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 Muda 7 Types of Waste

Office Examples of the 8 Wastes of Lean


Products, services, or information that are wrong, incomplete, or late

Office examples: Data entry errors. Missing information. 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.


Making too much, or too soon

Goal = Deliver exactly what the customer wants exactly when wanted.

Office examples: Printing extra copies. Printing paperwork (that might change) before it is needed. Processing an order (that might change) before it is needed. Storing extra copies in redundant filing systems. Emails to people that don't need to be cc'd.


Waiting for anything... tools, equipment, materials, people...

Office examples: Slow computer speed. Downtime (computer, fax, phone...). Waiting for approvals. Waiting for information from customer. Waiting for clarification or correction of work received from an upstream process.

Non Value Add Processing

Any process steps that do not add value — from the perspective of the customer

Relying on inspections, rather than designing the process to eliminate errors. Extra information. 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...)

Transportation and Handling

Any unnecessary movement of the thing being processed

Office examples: 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.


Piles of anything. Parts, supplies, emails, paperwork, archives...

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 (maybe transactions, reports...)


Any unnecessary movement of human workers

Walking to copier, printer, fax... Walking between offices. Central filing. Searching for missing information. Shifting back & forth between computer screens. Scrolling up and down computer screens. Shuffling through papers.

Eschewed Human Potential

To eschew means
"to purposely avoid"

Employing only people's backs, and not their minds.

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.

Unsafe or unergonomic work conditions.

Anything that has potential to harm anyone. Office work conditions that cause carpel tunnel, eye fatigue, chronic back pain... Conditions that compromise the health and productivity of workers in any way.

Confusion. Anything that causes uncertainty about the right thing to do.

Confusing goals. Confusing metrics. Confusing instructions. Missing pieces. Lack of training, coaching, support. Missing or confusing systems.

See more training for Lean Office

How to eliminate the 7 forms of waste

Excel templates to identify and elimate the 7 types of waste

Use your templates

Use your 150+ continuous improvement templates

Consistently-designed Word and Excel templates — with online training for dozens of field-proven lean methods

to identify and eliminate deadly wastes

Use your online training

Cave man

Why re-invent?


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



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

Paying Money


User-defined types of waste

In addition to the classic deadly 7 types of waste,

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

Value Add Pie Chart

See the online training for your


Process Observation Worksheet  Yamazumi template  Standard Work template  Value Stream Map

Download free trial


How to use your

Lean Waste Walk template

aka Waste Walk template, 8 Wastes template, or 7 Wastes template

Find and open your template

Find and open your Muda Waste Observation template (ObserveMuda.xlsx)

in the same way that you find and open your other 150+ Systems2win templates.

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win menu

If you don't yet own a license, you can download your free muda template now.

(and this Muda template has no expiration — you can use it for the rest of your career as a free gift)

Save your working document

following the usual document storage and naming conventions established by your leaders

Open a Blank Sheet

When you're ready to start doing your own real work...

click the button to 'Open a Blank Sheet'

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win tab > Open a Blank Sheet

This blank sheet is where you will do your real work

(not on the Sample sheet — which gives you sample data that is extremely helpful for learning how to use your new tool, but is the wrong place to do your real work)

Rename your new sheet.

Systems2win menu > Open a Blank Sheet

Or... Insert Sheet

As an alternative to opening a stand-alone document (as instructed above),

you also have the option to Insert Sheet into any other Excel workbook.

If English is not your preferred language

Switch to your language, just like every Systems2win Excel template.

Now you are ready to start observing

Muda Lean Waste

Print your Muda Observation sheet

Muda observation must be done at the gemba

(the place where the work is performed)

Although some very computer-oriented people might prefer to enter their observations directly into their laptop or pad computer...

it is much more common to hand write your observations on your printed form.

Muda template

You'll get a lot more out of this training if you have your template open in front of you

See the Help and Sample sheets for examples, learning exercises, pop-up help, Excel tips, and other training aids


There are many ways to observe waste. Here are two popular methods.

Option 1) Stand in a Circle

Your sensei uses chalk to draw a circle on the floor, and gives you the instruction to stand in that circle for a specified amount of time (perhaps a half hour, perhaps a half day...)

and then discuss the types of waste that you observe, and your ideas for how to reduce the wastes you observe.

Option 2) Waste Walk

Launch your team

using the same tools and systems that you use to launch every process improvement team.

Train your people

using the training on this page, and your Muda template.

Ensure that everyone is very clear about your Operational Definitions for what is and is not waste,
perhaps using your Operational Definitions template. (Op_Def.xlsx)


Usually in pairs.

Be sure to follow the common courtesies taught for any type of Process Observation.


Return to the group, and facilitate discussion about what was observed, and ideas for how to reduce wastes.

Lay out a Plan

Make a plan to implement your chosen counter-measures.

You could add columns to your Muda template

perhaps columns for Ideas, Approvals, Validation, etc.

but it is usually wiser to use one or more of your other templates to follow up with each of your chosen counter-measures.

Perhaps use your...

Event Action List

Value Stream Plan

Get Results

If you're not going to follow up to get results,

then why start?

Return to Quick Start Training to quickly learn how to start using your new templates to identify and eliminate the deadly 8 wastes in your processes