Before continuing our discussion of Taiichi Ohno’s concept of muda as applied to the country club, there’s one simple, but important distinction I want to make. Identifying an activity as waste does not always mean that activity should be eliminated or reduced. Every operation has to carefully distinguish between waste that is strictly waste and waste that is necessary auxiliary work, even if it doesn’t directly add value. In the case of a country club, a certain amount of excess has to be sustained in order to keep up the aura of extravagance which is so essential to the members’ experience. No matter how nice and well-kept everything is, a country club that doesn’t maintain this aura is just a golf course with amenities.

This means that the visibility of operational efficiency has to be kept low, while the visibility of service enhancements above the standard have to be high. A business that positions itself as a low-cost supplier of commodities can resolve the tension between efficiency and service by arguing that it passes the savings on to the customer. But that is not an option for the country club. You have to be able to present every operational change as a service enhancement. This dynamic affects your technology decisions. If you’re going to implement a system that increases your profitability, make sure it’s one that looks great and showcases some capabilities the members will see as a service.

More muda next week!