Don’t get rid of your waste, start utilizing it!


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Do you always look as waste as something you should get rid of? In lean circles this would be an area that they would attack and as many call it get rid of the low-hanging fruit? That is supply side thinking. And it works when there is excess demand. We need to become more effective and efficient. We should even go beyond Lean and reach Six Sigma levels. Of course, we do! Or do we?

But wait a minute, is there excess demand? We live in a world that has excess supply and as a result we have to start viewing the market from the demand side. Do the same rules apply? What happens if we start looking at waste as a resource versus a constraint? Could it create other opportunities?

For example, how much time, money and knowledge are spent optimizing the supply chain on the inbound side versus the outbound? Do you consider developing the supply chain for a market advantage? The organizations that have specifically, Amazon for example has created business opportunities for themselves looking at excess capacity as a resource and developed products around it (Amazon Prime, selling used books, buying back books, cloud computing). They even have started creating a publishing empire as an outgrowth of their ability to deliver digital products.

Does your supply chain shy away from encouraging mass customization? This is an old term that is re-emerging as a result of a response to create demand. Supply Chain Technology should be leading the way in creating new products opportunities not just looking at getting rid of waste. Why can’t the supply chain lead in defining new ways of mass customization, collaboration and co-creation opportunities within their existing customer base?

Administrative functions may be another untapped goldmine. Why not create opportunity there for customers to utilize your purchasing power for example? The untapped goldmine is on the demand side of the equation, that’s where the need is? Waste may be your most underutilized resource within a company, it can very often be a way to accelerate or increase demand. Extend your services that you are good at and use them to gain competitive advantage by extending them to your customer. If we don’t, we are forgetting to maximize all of our opportunities.

Consider things that you do well internally and how they may provide additional value to your customer. I think we forget sometimes how embedded the culture of our company is in our product or service. You will find that culture extending into your customer’s place of business. Your internally practices may not be as internal as you may think. Getting your engineers and operational people into your customers place of business or in Lean terms going to Gemba could provide some very interesting conversations and as a result opportunities.

What are you doing in your business that might have value for others?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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