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| 1 minute read

Lean's Eight "Wastes" – How to Identify Them in Your In-House Law Department

If you're a leader in an in-house law department, you may have heard about the concept of Lean. Having originated out of manufacturing environments, in recent years Lean principles have been applied across a variety of professional services firms. A decade ago, the book, The Lean Startup, popularized how startup companies could apply Lean principles to achieve results. But how do these principles apply to the challenges faced by in-house law departments?

Process Improvement specialists are always on the lookout for the 'eight wastes' – 8 types of activity that, according to the Lean methodology, consume resources without delivering value to the customer. This is why process specialists consistently focus on identifying 'waste' in your processes – because it's a sure-fire route to more optimized operations. Lean is rooted in the Japanese management philosophy Taiichi Ohno developed for Toyota following World War II, with waste, or 'muda', being a central concept; it seeks to avoid inefficiency of all kinds - including waste (muda), variation (mura) and over-burden (muri).

The application of Lean and its eight wastes isn't always immediately clear in a legal environment. But once you know what you're looking for, it becomes simpler to identify opportunities for greater operational efficiency.


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