Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Seven Wastes: Over Processing

A Fancy and Expensive Compost Box
Continuing with our Seven Wastes series...I bet you thought I forgot...I'll be diving into the next topic which is "Over Processing".  Traditionally, over processing in the manufacturing world consists of doing more work than the customer asked for.  For example, a customer orders a basic Toyota Corolla SE, but instead you make an LE model complete with power everything, leather seats, and automatic air fresher.  All this time and effort you just put into making a luxury Corolla (if there is such a thing) is now wasted, because the customer is not going to pay more for all these features.  Now the dealer might have to deal with a whole other type of waste "Inventory", but I'll save that for another post.

Needless to say, the car example was just to illustrate a point. Unfortunately, over processing can occur in our own daily lives; most typically with allocating our efforts to particular projects. Understanding how much effort to put into a particular project is very important to maximize your own potential. Here's another example in my own life to wet your palate. Recently, I had the opportunity to build a brand new composting box for my backyard. Composting is a wonderful way to dispose of organic waste, reduce trash in land fills, and improve your own gardens, but I digress. There are hundreds of different types of compost bins on the market right now, and if your not careful, you could spend a couple hundred bucks on something that is essentially making dirt. I decided to go with the, "I'm going to just build one" method and next had to figure out exactly what I was going to use to build with. I searched online and came across a number of sites that listed the best types of compost bins for construction, and the best building materials. Chicken wire, cedar boards, fancy paint, all could make a compost box look really nice, but in the back of my mind something seemed awry. Finally it hit me, this was something that was going in my backyard out of site and essentially forms an industrial function. Why would I spend any significant amount of my hard earned cash on this project.

My plans for this uber cheap compost box consisted of about 10 12 feet long pieces of pine board I bought at a local construction reuse place for a total of $5. I cut them all up, and slowly assembled them into a nice box with 1 inch gaps throughout to allow airflow. Besides my own time, the total construction costs was that measly $5 I spent on building materials. The point I'm trying to make here is that I understood that this needed to be a cheap project and the accuracy of this project was only needed to be adequate. This allowed me to finish rather quickly and move onto the next phase of my life.

Taking the counter point on this whole "how much effort should I put into things" is the idea that you should put quality work into everything you do. I'm all for this, but if your boss is asking you to do 10 different projects, you need to understand which ones are the important ones and how much effort to put into them. There are only so many hours in a day, and frankly, you'll be much happier when you fine tune this time management skill.

Remember that a few minutes of thinking through problem and proper categorization in your life could save you much more time in the future.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Seeing the biggest bull frog I've ever seen ribbit at my Parent's house.

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