Swamped by last minute tax filings, Intuit's Turbo Tax e-filing system crashed yesterday. That's bad news for people filing, who had to deal with delays and uncertainty.

This snafu reminds me of a client whose employer required him to take an HR training program on the company's intranet. He put it off for days, then weeks, until the task disappeared from visibility: the email reminders were buried in the thousands of emails sitting in his inbox.

Eventually, he HAD to do the training. . . along with the all the other procrastinators. But the server couldn't handle the load, and as a result it took him four hours to complete the program, instead of the normal 30 minutes.

What does this have to do with lean? Eliminating waste is at the heart of lean. Both the Turbo Tax filers and my client put themselves into a situation where they ended up wasting time and energy -- time and energy that could have been more productively applied elsewhere. But procrastination -- which is to say, their unwillingness to designate time on their calendars (one of the 4Ds, remember?) -- cost them dearly. By that measure, they were far from lean.

Next time you complain about not having enough time to get something done, think about how you could have avoided the problem -- and the waste -- in the first place.

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