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Waste Walk Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Lean Transformations Group

It is a maxim in lean thinking that to fix any problem you must first see the waste. However, the longer you have worked in a system, the harder it is to see the waste around you.

Taking a “waste walk” is one way to make the waste visible again. A waste walk is simply a planned visit to where work is being performed to observe what’s happening and to note the waste. It differs from go-see activities in that you are specifically looking for waste.

Common objectives for your waste walks include:

  • Validate the problems pointed out in the development of the current-state map.
  • Provide a format to continue to socialize the redesign effort.
  • Provide an initial opportunity to gather staff ideas about the current-state problems.

Waste Walk Guidelines

  1. Huddle with your team members:
    • Describe the purpose,
    • Describe the various forms of wastes and examples,
    • Pass out copies of the current-state map and identified problems, and
    • Assign areas to walk to you team. It’s usually better to have a pair of people for each assignment.
  1. As a group walk the whole value stream depicted on your map to confirm the areas of the individual/pair assignments.
  2. Explain to the people in the area of observation what you are doing. Share the map and waste examples and describe the objectives of the observation activity.
  3. Move to areas for individual assignments, and study the areas for 30–45 minutes.
  4. As you see work that appears to be waste, jot down the example you see.
  5. Return to the team and discuss what you have seen.
  6. As a team, match the wastes you see to problems previously identified in the current-state map. If other significant problems are identified during the walk, place them on the map.
  7. Put the results of the waste walk next to the current-state map being shared in the area and use the examples to continue to socialize the current state and the system-level problems that frustrate the people and process.

Perfecting Patient JourneysPerfecting Patient Journeys, from which this form is taken, is a guide to value-stream improvement for leaders of healthcare organizations who want to implement lean thinking and engage employees in solving problems in order to deliver better and more efficient care. Readers will learn how to identify and select a problem in the performance of a value stream, define a project scope, and create a shared understanding of what's occurring in the value stream. Readers will also learn to develop a shared vision of an improved future, and hopefully work together to make that vision a reality.

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