Taiichi Ohno’s seven wastes and social media



© Kenichi Nobusue ”My social networks” Photo. Attribution 2.0 Generic 

There is no simple answer to running a successful business but those who do often rely on business instinct. It could be a sixth sense that leads you to success, but sometimes it’s best to learn from others and to follow models. There have been many business theories over the years and when looking for the right one to follow it can be a very daunting and complicated task.

My own experiences have lead me to believe it is best to look back to an original model, an untainted source, and in this case we will doing exactly that! Specifically, Taiichi Ohno’s (1950s) seven wastes of mass production. Careers in social media are very far away from that of factory mass production work but I wanted to see if social media could reduce organisational waste, Ohno’s area of expertise.

1. Overproduction: Producing ahead of what’s actually needed by the next process or customer. The worst form of waste because it contributes to the other six.

Tracking social conversations online can help brands see exactly what customers would like to buy (demand) and what they have already purchased – this information can be fed back and should stop overproduction of the wrong products.

2. Waiting: Operators standing idle as machines cycle, equipment fails, needed parts fail to arrive, etc.

Why wait for the press to release a story about your new brand when you can post to your social communities within seconds at a click of a button?!

3. Conveyance: Moving parts and products unnecessarily, such as from a processing step to a warehouse to a subsequent processing step when the second step instead could be located immediately adjacent to the first step.

Traditionally promoting your company was a very manual process. Walking around your local neighbourhood passing out flyers in the rain is a thing of the past! Conveniently, social allows you to have all your customers or potential customer in one place.

4. Processing: Performing unnecessary or incorrect processing, typically from poor tool or product design.

Not sure about your product design? Why not ask your audience? We have seen many brands over recent years ask social networks to vote on the next brand design or the product that should be launched next. Social can act as a focus group but with thousands, if not millions, of people.

5. Inventory: Having more than the minimum stocks necessary for a precisely controlled pull system.

Every company wants to be lean. Knowing exactly how much stock you have left or figuring out exactly what your capacity is can be extremely hard. To be fair, I am going a little outside the box on this one to justify my point, but surely this has to do with internal communication? Yammer could be your answer to improving communication between your store managers and your operations manager.  Finding that right balance of stock should be made easier through better communication.

6. Motion: Operators making movements that are straining or unnecessary, such as looking for parts, tools, documents, etc.

With an efficient social media team you don’t need separate companies to advertise in different media channels, to argue with designers or communicate with multiple account mangers – efficient social media teams should be able to save you motion by having everything you need in one place.

7. Correction: Inspection, rework, and scrap. 

To balance things out, I would say this waste is something in which social fails on a certain level. Once uploaded, a post is out there for everyone to see, it is very hard to retract and if retracted can have consequences. On the other hand, we can continuously improve and learn from our analytics. Social allows you to correct your social process to ensure you increase engagement or create more leads.

By thinking outside the box, social does not have to sit solely with the marketing team but also the operations department. Going social could be the answer to making your company more streamline and efficient. Let me know what you think, leave a comment or tweet me @PeteKnott1

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