Ohno created an intellectual and cultural framework for eliminating waste — which he defined as “any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value.” He opposed every form of waste.3

Womack and Jones restated thus his classification of the forms of waste: “mistakes which require rectification, production of items no one wants so that inventories and remaindered goods pile up, processing steps which aren’t actually needed, movement of employees and transport of goods from one place to another without any purpose, groups of people in a downstream activity standing around waiting because an upstream activity has not delivered on time, and goods and services which don’t meet the needs of the customer.” Ohno called these muda, which is Japanese for “waste,” “futility,” or “purposelessness.” Each of these classes of muda involves a whole family of blunders, which range from activities like having to inspect a product to see if it has the quality it should have had in the first place (an unneeded process step) to filling a new-car lot with vehicles that meet

no specific demand — if the cars were wanted, customers would have bought them already — and then discounting them enough to sell them. Ohno’s and his students’ vast practical experience helped them to develop penetrating modes of perception — mental “muda spectacles” — that reveal the previously invisible waste all around us.