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What is Muda, Muri, Mura?

One of the key ways in which “Agility” can be achieved is by reducing variations and addressing elements which reduces productivity. There are fundamentally 3 types of variations that can be distinguished

Muda : Waste, Non-Value add activities, Idle time etc

Muri : Overburdening of the system or impossible to achieve

Mura : Unevenless, irregularity or lack of uniformity

As the names suggest, the 3 terms are of Japanese origin, specifically Toyota.


Reduction of Muda (or wastage) can be achieved by assuring that a process will not consume more resources than necessary. Generally a “Value Added” activity is the one where customer pays for it, or a user gets benefitted by it etc. Examples of some of the types of wastes which can be eliminated

  1. Producing good more than the need : Producing good which a market does not need is a waste.
  2. Wait Time or Idle Time : Too much capacity and less work or too much of time between tasks, dependencies on tasks resulting in idle time.
  3. Transportation : Moving between offices, travel time, transporting goods physically between offices or warehouses
  4. Unnecessary Supplies : Developing more than what is needed
  5. Defects : Defective code or redevelopment effort
  6. Unused Expertise : Experts doing mundane work or highly paid workers doing day-to-day work


Reducing over-burdening of the system can be implemented by implementing “FLOW”.  Lean methodology (or any Agile methodology) focusses on getting the “right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity. This method of doing the “right things to the…….” is called achieving FLOW.


A common misunderstanding is that improving productivity means working faster. Lean (and other methodologies like Extreme Programming and Scrum or even Agile Principles) endorses sustaining the pace of work. Work like a Tortoise (steady pace) instead of running like a hare and then resting before resuming work. “Pull” system is an essential element of Scrum and other Agile methodologies. Kanban implements Pull system and Just in Time is achieved. This is Mura.