11 November, 2021

What are Muda, Mura, Muri? And, what are the 7 Wastes of Lean? | Video

In Japan, waste is generally known as ‘muda‘, meaning wasted effort. In fact, there are other forms of waste: ‘mura‘ and ‘muri‘.

  • Muda: Wasted effort
  • Mura: Inconsistency
  • Muri: Unreasonable requirements

And, what are the 7 Wastes of Lean?

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Taichi Ohno, The Toyota Production System, Lean, and Muda…

Taichi Ohno revolutionized productivity at Toyota, to produce the Toyota Production System (TPS) – the forerunner of Lean Production. 

The starting point for Ohno’s reforms was the idea of waste, or ‘Muda’. Ohno waged a systematic campaign to eliminate all possible forms of waste. In so doing, he identified the seven categories that are often known as the ‘Seven Wastes’.

The 7 Wastes of Lean

  1. Defective Production 
    Producing defective products. These need to be found, removed, re-made or remediated, and re-tested.
  2. Overproduction 
    Producing more than is needed at the time.
  3. Waiting 
    Idle, non-productive time. This is relevant to us, as project managers, in our use of Critical Path Analysis and Critical Chain planning.
  4. Transporting 
    The wasted time and risks of damage or loss. Lean tries to minimize distances between the stages in a process.
  5. Inventory 
    Holding unnecessary stock and therefore incurring capital costs. Applies to raw materials, Work in Progress, and completed products
  6. Motion 
    The wear and tear and the accidents that arise in moving things around a plant – or moving people
  7. Excessive Processing 
    Over-specification the quality of components, or creating unwanted functionality, for example. This latter is very much the concern of many Agile methodologies

DOWNTIME: 8 Wastes

Some people add other wastes to Ohno’s original seven, most commonly placing Non-used employee talent (wasting skills) between number 3 and 4 in my ordering, so create the mnemonic acronym: DOWNTIME.

TPS and Kanban

By the way, Ohno also developed a system of signboards that track progress of goods through the manufacturing process, which are called ‘Kanbans’. The kanban board is now widely used to track progress in projects throughout commerce, especially in managing software projects under agile project management methodologies.

Muda, Mura, Muri: So, what of Mura and Muri

Less is said about these in the Production environment. But I believe they are both vital to us, in the Project environment.

Mura: Inconsistency

We need to be adaptable and not stick slavishly to fixed methods. But it is also important to create consistency where we can, to produce a controlled project environment. Key elements of this are:

  • Governance
  • Control
  • Efficiency

Muri: Unreasonable requirements

What Project Manager will fail to recognize unreasonable requirements as a source of waste. Wasted:

  • Emotional energy
  • Work
  • Time
  • Cost

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I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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