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Stagnation is the middle name.

Mastering a presentation takes time. Intensively interrogating each slide to enhance the message of the slide deck can take months and maybe years. You have honed each chart to a level of clarity that Edward Tufte would complement your ink ratio. You have an uncanny ability to modify the flow on the spot as you correlate the themes with the facial responses of your audience. In its entirety, it is a validated masterpiece after each presentation.

You may be that organization that has achieved a safety performance that peers come to you to benchmark. You have mastered 5S, remain one step ahead of regulatory code, and maintain the MOC (management of change) process routinely referenced in ISO papers. Visitors to your facility react to these performances with jaws signally awe as they grab nuggets to replicate within their responsibilities. This organization does not bake its pride in the sun but takes solace in the journey to the top.

What's next

But what’s next? If you have mastered presenting a training deck, how do you guarantee it to be masterful if others replicate it? Can you justify not improving an onboarding activity for new hires that receives unanimous 5-star ratings in feedback reviews? Does being at the peak of something and losing the desire to enhance inevitably become a waste?

TIMWOOD is the commonly used acronym to denote the eight deadly wastes. Transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over-processing, defects, and skills encompass untapped value. When practiced, this acronym is a fantastic tool to unlock an organization’s opportunities. Founded by Taiichi Ocho, the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS), TIMWOOD was used within manufacturing processes to find waste and drive projects to capture a maximize value. But hidden in the TIMWOOD acronym, I think it is missing another form of waste. Reminder, TIMWOOD does not like Dunkin's Munchkins either.

Iterating TIMWOOD

TIMWOOD spun into TIMWOODS as Skills became the eighth waste. With the introduction of Skill, the identified waste expanded to include the non-utilized talent of individuals. Consider an example where you have over-trained an individual, and their trained skills are mismanaged. You may have your best welder working on a hydraulic problem, whereas the team member you have welding cannot start the welding machine. This eighth waste was an addition that brought personnel attributes into the waste discussion. But in the genealogy of TIMWOOD being the parent of TIMWOODS, I think it is time to recognize the newest sibling.

The next sibling

Introducing TIM S. WOODS, the next offspring of TIMWOOD. I recognize that establishing a middle name comes with a magnitude of respect to the legacy of the parents while recognizing that legacy preservation is validated by trying something different. To truly remove waste, a process cannot become stagnant. Stagnation is the new middle name and it is time to try something different.

Middle names serve much the same purposes they always have: they’re a way to keep family names going and thus preserve relationships; they’re a way to try something new or “put old names out to grass" without cutting the cord entirely. Stephen Wilson’s The Means of Naming: A Social History

Stagnation is a waste that limits an iteration. Failing to see what it could be, it is an organization that is content with its product or process. It is a high school student with all A’s that chooses not to interrogate the reasoning they missed one question on the last test. It is an organization that routinely receives 5-star reviews for an onboarding activity, and chooses not to modify the activity because of fear of retrogression. Stagnation is a fear to jump into what else you, your organization, or your product could be.

Within your organization, embrace the eight deadly wastes and utilize the simplification of coaching them with the acronym of TIMWOODS. But also seek out those areas that are content with their output and have become stagnant to try something new. Stagnation is a limiter to move forward while contentment with historical achievements. It deserves to be a middle name.


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