Using a DOWNTIME chart to Identify Waste

Toyota identified seven wastes as they developed the Toyota Production System from 1948 to 1975.  As the production system was integrated into Western culture the eighth waste- Not Listening to People’s Ideas was adopted.  Let’s focus on using a DOWNTIME chart to identify waste.

When put into the correct order, the eight wastes spell out DOWNTIME.  This mnemonic helps you remember what the eight wastes are in business.  Briefly, here are the eight wastes:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Not Listening to People’s Ideas
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Excess Processing

That’s great Tom, but now what do I do?  When I coach companies, I have them print out a 2’ x 3’ poster of the DOWNTIME wastes and place them in their PMO.  This becomes a key focal point for identifying waste in their organizations.  What do we do next?

1.  Take a Waste Walk

Using your value stream maps as a guide, this should occur on day one of your rapid improvement event (RIE).  Have your RIE team walk to the area or process and take notepads with them.  If it helps, have them write DOWNTIME across the top of their pad.  Have them write down wastes that they observe on their walk.

Things that are often apparent is inventory, scrap, motion, transportation, and waiting.  If you are working on an office process, look for piled-up files (inventory), switching through many computer systems, and getting up to get copies or print outs (motion).  Have your team talk to people in the process and ask how long and how often they wait on information or people.


2.  Place the wastes on the DOWNTIME chart

It’s less important the team gets the waste in the proper category.  What’s important is they identified it and made note of it.  Have the team write the wastes they observe on stickie notes and place them on the DOWNTIME chart where they believe it belongs.  After everyone has completed this process, have someone from the team go through them.  Consolidate any that are the same.

After consolidating, number each stickie note.  You’ll want to refer back to the waste in the next step of the process.

3.  Brainstorm improvement ideas to eliminate the waste

Using a separate stickie note color, have the team brainstorm ideas to eliminate the wastes.  Have the team members place these stickie notes near the waste they believe their idea will eliminate.  These should be action-oriented ideas.  It’s okay if multiple employees come up with the same idea.  You can consolidate them

Remember the rules of brainstorming- there are no rules.  It’s important to let people brainstorm freely with no constraints.  We’ll sort through the ideas in the next step called a P.I.C.K. chart.  We’ll cover that process in next week’s blog.


The eight wastes are everywhere in your business.  Take a walk with some employees and take notes.  Identity some wastes and put them on a DOWNTIME chart like the one above.  Then go attack that waste!

As always, it is an honor to serve you and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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