Today, let’s talk about Tim Wood. But first, some background.

The origin of waste?

Henry Ford identified dozens of types of waste in his operations and spelled them out in his book “Today and Tomorrow” written in 1926. In 1988, Productivity Press published Taiichi Ohno’s tribute book “Just-in-Time for Today and Tomorrow” in which Ohno broadly defined seven key types of waste. These seven have become law in lean circles, occasionally supplemented by an 8th waste, which I credit to Dr. Deming (“Out of the Crisis” 1986) where he stated clearly “The greatest waste in any business is the waste of human creativity” or words to that effect.

Ohno listed the following: Over production, Correction, Waiting, Over processing, Transport, Motion, and Inventory. There didn’t seem to be any particular order, but Ohno did say that Over production was the worst since it actually consumes resources to create the wrong outputs. Since then, people have attempted to come up with mnemonic devices to help them remember the seven wastes.

Some made little sense: COOWIMT…If you can remember the letters, you should be able to remember the words!


Some changed a couple of the words to get a better fit, like DOWNTIME – Defects (instead of correction), Overproduction, Waiting, Not using people’s creativity (a nod to Deming), Transport, Inventory, Motion, and Extra Processing (instead of Over processing).

Tim Wood

The worst one to me is also the most popular, thanks to the Six Sigma community high-jacking it and teaching a zillion people that you have to know this to get a yellow, green, or black belt. This one is TIM WOOD, or TIM P WOOD – Transport, Inventory, Motion, People, Waiting, Over production, Over processing, and Defects.

Why is TIM P WOOD a bad way to remember the types of waste? Because it turns waste into a person. Subliminally, that sends the message to a workforce that waste is about people. Tim Wood sounds like a nice guy. Why would anyone want to eliminate him?

If we’re going to be serious about a war on waste, we have to make waste sound like something horrible, evil, or inhuman. DOWNTIME is okay but how about a name that elicits something worse?


Try using WORM PIT. Can you think of anything worse than beitim wood image of a wormpitng in a deep, wet, smelly, slimy pit filled with worms? Makes your skin kind of crawl just thinking about it, doesn’t it? That’s the feeling we want – hatred of waste. WORM PIT stands for Waiting, Overproduction, Rework, Motion, Processing, Inventory, and Transportation. The only way out of the worm pit is by engaging the collective INTELLECT of the work force.

If we don’t face waste as a true enemy worthy of nothing but death, we’re never going to take the often-dramatic steps needed to eliminate it and create more value. Play golf with Tim Wood? Or destroy the worm pit before it destroys you?  -DSV

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