Posted by: kerrywills | February 27, 2010

Mo’ Muda Mo’ Problems


The “lean thinking” theories are based on the Japanese manufacturing principles. One of these principles is the concept of “muda” which is the Japanese term for actvities which are not value added and add waste.

In the late 1990s, the rapper Notorious B.I.G. had a song called “Mo Money Mo Problems” which had the lyrics…

“I don’t know what, they want from me
It’s like the more money we come across
The more problems we see”

In this blog entry I will try to combine the lean concept of muda with the ephipany from Notorious that the more muda we come across the  “mo problems” we see.  In order to be efficient and predictable, the lean concepts aggresively look for non-value add activities and eliminate them from the work. Project Managers have many examples of muda in their day:

  • Meetings that are minimally related to work topics (or my favorite the 3 hour meeting where everyone presents for 15 minutes and then has to sit through all of the other unrelated topics)
  • WTF Meetings – I call these the “Waste of my F—- Time” meetings where there is no value for me to be there
  • Redundant status report – filling out multiple reports with the same information
  • Process steps or reports which don’t add direct value to the project
  • Confusion over accountability and having multiple people doing the same work
  • Team members waiting on other team members and not optimizing productivity

Wasting time causes problems

The problems with this waste is that it takes time away from managing the plan, being forward looking on risks and issues, planning ahead, and other critical aspects to Project Management. It also causes the team to be unproductive and waste time that could be spent on delivering project commitments.

Project Managers should look for muda in their day and in their teams and look to minimize, if not eliminate it, so they can stay focused on activities which will help them to deliver on their commitments. This should help to reduce the ‘mo problems.

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