Art of Living : Find and eliminate Muda


An Indian hotel group ‑‑ supposedly the Taj Group — invited a Japanese consultant, Mr Masaaki Imai, to hold a workshop for its managers. The hotel managers were skeptical: our hotel is doing excellent business; this Japanese guy has no exposure to the Indian hotel business; what exactly are we going to learn from him?

In the conference room at 9 am sharp, Mr Masaaki Imai was introduced to them. He turned out to be an unimpressive personality, who spoke as if he was first formulating each sentence in Japanese and then translating it into clumsy English.

“Good morning. Let us start work. I am told this is a workshop, but I see neither work nor shop. So let us go where work is happening. Let us start with the first room on the first floor.”

Mr Masaaki Imai , followed by the participants, proceeded to that room, chosen at random. It happened to be the laundry room of the hotel. Mr Mr Masaaki Imai entered and stood at the window, “Beautiful view,” he said.

The staff knew that. They did not need a Japanese consultant to tell them this. “A room with such a beautiful view is being wasted as a laundry room. Shift the laundry to the basement and convert this into a guest room.”

Wow! How come nobody had thought about that? The General Manager said, “Yes, it can be done.” “Then let us do it.” Mr Masai said.

“Yes sir, I will make a note of it. And we will include it in the report on the workshop”

“Excuse me, but there is nothing to make a note of. We will do it, right now.” Mr Masai said.

“Right now?”

“Yes, you decide on a room in the basement and shift these things out of this room right now. It should take a few hours, right?”

“Then we will come back here tonight. By then all these things will have been shifted out and the room will be ready with the furniture, furnishings etc. Then from tomorrow you can start earning the extra eight thousand rupees that you charge for a room night.”

The next destination was the pantry. The group entered. Inside were two huge sinks full of plates, waiting to be washed. Mr Masai immediately removed his jacket and started washing the plates.

“Sir, please, what are you doing?” asked the General Manager

“I am washing the plates”

“But sir, the staff is here to do that.”

Mr Mr Masaaki Imai continued washing, “I think sink is for washing plates. There are stands to keep the plates. These plates should therefore be in the stands.”

After finishing, Mr Mr Masaaki Imai asked, “How many plates do you have?”

“We have plenty, so that there should never be any shortage,” said the General Manager

“We have a word in Japanese: ‘Muda’. Muda means delay, muda means unnecessary spending, wastage. We must learn to avoid these. If you have plenty of plates, there will be delay in cleaning them up. The first step in correcting this situation is to remove all the excess plates.”

“Certainly, we will say this in the report.”

No wasting time in writing a report. That is another example of muda. We must pack the extra plates in a box right now and send them to whichever other hotel might require them.

Now, for the rest of this workshop, we will find out where all this muda is hidden and remove it, one part at a time”

After this, at every spot and session, the staff eagerly awaited to find out muda and learn how to avoid it.


Let us do this exercise after reading this blog — find out delay, waste of time and unnecessary spending in our own lives and learn ways to avoid them. Muda is waste. Wasting time, effort or energy means a wasted opportunity to be more productive. Yoga, meditation and Sudarshan Kriya increase the awareness levels so that it become easier to identify and destroy the Muda in business and personal life.

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  1. I think this is very good message for working persons to imporve our work invirnment. This is example of right thinking and improve working.

  2. Thank you for sharing the concept of Muda. Following it can help one cut down so much wastage and actually experience the Art of Living!

  3. loved it!!! However, it’s extremely useful for each & every individual; but if every corporate in all industries used this principle of getting rid of ‘muda’; the world will be a different place. 🙂

  4. Hi all!

    Good reading but two mistakes in the post.
    1. Its not Masai its Masaaki Imai. We should show respect to people like Masaaki Imai. He is a renowned guru in the domain of KAIZEN/Lean/Sig sigma/Operational excellence and he is the one who brought this concept of KAIZEN live to the outside world of japan.
    2, Muda does not mean delay. Muda is a japanese word for Waste. There are 8 kinds of waste in any process. To read more search google.

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