He’s your sneakiest employee and you may not even know you’re paying him!

Have You Met Tim Woods?

Who on Earth is this Tim Woods and where is he hiding?

Tim Woods is actually the acronym used within the Lean methodology to help you look for all the kinds of waste in your business. (Apologies to all real Tim Woods out there, we love you really!) Waste in our business generally comes in 3 forms:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Resources

And sneaky old Tim Woods is there using them all up behind your back. Actually, Tim Woods is probably right in front of you all the time but unless you take the time to look, it’s not always obvious at first sight.

So how do I find Tim Woods and Sack him?

Tim Woods hides in all of these places in your business.  Wherever you have one of these, you are likely to be wasting time, money or other resources:

Transport: Waste in transportation includes the movement of people, tools, inventory, equipment, or products further than necessary.

Inventory: Having more inventory than necessary to sustain a steady flow of work can lead to problems such as product defects, damaged materials, greater lead time in the production process, inefficient allocation of capital, and problems being hidden away in the inventory.

Motion: The waste in motion includes any unnecessary movement of people, equipment, or machinery.  This includes walking, lifting, reaching, bending, stretching, and moving.

Waiting: The waste of waiting includes: 1) people waiting on material or equipment and 2) idle equipment. Waiting time is often caused by unevenness in the production stations and can result in excess inventory and overproduction.

Over-production: Over-production occurs when manufacturing a product or an element of the product before it is being asked for or required.

Over-engineering: Over-processing refers to doing more work, adding more features/components, or having more steps in a product or service than required by the customer.

Defects: Defects occur when the product is not exactly as designed. Severe defects typically result in either reworking or scrapping the product. which are wasteful as they add additional costs to the operations without delivering any value to the customer.  Minor defects may be passed through to the customer but ultimately diminish the brand value.

Skills: Skills waste is also described as the waste of unused human talent and ingenuity. This waste occurs when businesses don’t fully utilise a worker’s knowledge and expertise.

Sadly, it’s never completely possible to make all of these go to zero.  You are always going to need some form of Transport across your end-to-end business. 

In a product business, you are unlikely to be able to make things without either Inventory or Motion. The concept of Kaizen or Continuous Improvement is based on the idea of always striving to reach zero – even though you never quite get there, you are still better off than you were before.

I bought the kool-aid on this idea as a teenager doing Business Studies A-Level.  I just think it makes perfect sense.  The more I studied it and used it over the years, the more I saw that lots of small steps to improve things have a much bigger impact overall than big, dramatic changes that have a tendency to go horribly wrong.

Keeping an eye out and fixing the little problems is a lot easier and a lot more effective than waiting until you have a massive problem to solve.

Where you can see Tim Woods in your business?

Transport includes your supplies getting to you and your products getting to your customers.

Inventory is your unsold product as well as any supplies you haven’t used yet.

Waiting for something to dry, cure, bake, or perhaps for someone else, maybe a professional printer or finisher.

Over-production is when you have unsold stock for too long.

Over-engineering is adding details or features to your products that customers aren’t willing to pay for.

Defects are the ones customers spot (argh) and also the ones you catch, but this means you have to restart or repeat a step because something went wrong.

Skills often catch people out! How can skills be a waste? 

But are you spending more time on things you aren’t good at versus things you are?  In which case, would your time be better spent elsewhere?

Every one of these is costing your business either in cold hard cash or in the opportunity to generate more cash by using your time or resources more effectively.

Don’t you think it’s time to get rid of your Tim Woods?

About the Author

Louise Scanlon

After two decades working in mobile telecoms, with some of the most popular brands in the world, I am excited to be able to share what I learned with businesses ready to grow to their next level. You can read all about my start in the world of products here – and you’ll see why I believe we can all learn what we need to know, when we need to know it! Prior to starting The Product Academy, I worked in Mobile Telecoms for  2 decades, working with some of the most popular brands in the world.  I have always been passionate about customer focus and my professional background includes strategic development, operational excellence, product management and quality assurance, marketing programme management and people development. (whew, you can do a lot in 20 years!!) Along the way, I’ve been mentored, taught and coached by some brilliant people and I’ve also learned my own lessons about what works, what doesn’t work and how to make things happen. My aim is for The Product Academy to provide you with a framework of support that will help you succeed.