• Randy Swaim

Leadership: “No Muda” In Your Organization & Decreasing The Drag.

As I am coaching a current executive client at Lexus, a Japanese term that is a central concept in his organization has arisen and it is a great insight for many leaders today. 


They have central corporate concept that forms the backbone of their organization.  It is a Japanese term and they characterize it as “No Muda”. Let me offer the definition of the term:

Muda (無駄) is a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; wastefulness“, and is a key concept in lean process thinking, like the Toyota Production System (TPS) as one of the three types of deviation from optimal allocation of resources (the others being mura and muri).


In the context of “Lean process thinking”, one will typically think of it in one context but I offer a couple of other contexts for this blog.  A client from a few years ago had said that the value of coaching was that he saw that there was less drag on his organization.


One context can be illustrated by the “Island Hopping Campaign” of the US Pacific Strategy in World War II.  The strategy involved engaging the key enemy points and not being bogged down for every single island on the way.  It was related that the small outposts would be left to wither on the vine.  The idea being they would not be distracted by that that did not matter.

So just to offer some insights about current organizations.  Some of these areas can be more vague than first realized.  Let’s look at some examples although there will be many more than can be listed in one blog.


When you look at your Strategic Plan and Action Steps, does it just require teams to do certain things or does it really make it possible? What is standing in the way?  What do you NOT know?  The extent to which you do not have 100% clarity, you are probably having some Muda at play.

The reader may remember a few years ago I related a client whose organization needed to become fully unified by next August.  Yet in following up he was implementing something that would completely derail that.  When I asked him one question on the phone……he was quiet and then said “I see what you mean”.  I asked him “If you do not lead & model that, why should they follow it?


In your leadership, do you treat every person in your team “Exactly The Same”? Realize that people are different and this highlights what in Sherpa Coaching we call “Why It Matters”.  Some people need “a place and a space”.  Some need to feel a connection and synergy.  Do you know your people?  If you are making assumptions, you probably have some “Muda”In your position, are you more “controlling or managing your people”…..or leading them? Often the unexpected challenges are seen at the point of attack first and not so much at the top.  Are you truly coaching and leading your team so that they recognize risks coming on the scene or see unexpected solutions?  To this extent you are probably have some Muda at play and have unrealized drag on your success.  Never forget…what your team experiences from you is way more important than anything you will “tell them”.


These are just a couple of examples of how Muda can be insidiously involved sometimes.  Where does Muda exist in your organization?  What will it take to remove it and in doing such, reduce the drag on your organization?


Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC

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