"Waste is any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value."
James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, Lean Thinking
I'm currently rereading/skimming a few books from a few years ago to make sure I don't forget the most important messages. Today on the subway, I flipped through "Running Lean" by Ash Maurya and rediscovered the quote from above.
"Lean" methodologies strive to eliminate waste. Sometimes, however, it's difficult to figure out what waste really is. I like how the authors of "Lean Thinking" break it down to 3 essential elements:
The important part here is in my opinion, that all three elements must be present so that it can be called waste. Some stuff actually does need a lot of "human activity" and cost a lot of time. At the beginning, you probably need to do things that don't scale to increase your learning.
Human activity: manual work, something that can't be (or isn't yet) automated
- which absorbs resources: takes time, energy, and/or costs money
- but creates no value: you don't make money with it, don't learn anything from it, it's no fun
And this is actually why we took the step a few weeks ago to cut every manual work of our days drastically. Our work days consisted of a lot of tasks that I would consider "waste" now, as we just did them to "keep growing," while we didn't learn anything new and didn't validate our business model from them.