When it comes to identifying Non-Value adding activity (NVA), It is important to identify the Muri and Mura as well as the Muda! When looking at VA vs. NVA (& ENVA - essential NVA) issues, we must also look at what is Value adding in respect to 'People' (Human Factors). When we do, all sorts of other issues have to be considered.
Take the terminology / language we use. One person in a lean forum recently cited 'Jidoka' as "the lean quality system that goes beyond Six Sigma". Jidoka in all of my 20+yrs experience implementing lean around Europe stands for 'Autonomation' (i.e. Automation with a human touch). The principle being that people must always be involved because they THINK... and given the right socio-technical environment & experience, human 'Thinking', if positive and aligned with organisational outcomes and objectives, can come up with better ways to do things (i.e. remove the 7 wastes to better address VOC and Hoshin timeline drivers - i.e. Add Value).
But .... the considered use of language is a cornerstone that is often missing from this utopian picture. The person who used the word Jidoka to describe a 'Quality system' may in fact be absolutely correct, but we'd have to understand the 'context' and depth of understanding with which the word was used, as, on the face of it, such a claim might provoke misunderstanding and possibly a bit of conflict between someone who understands it to mean 'Automation', especially if both were in an emotional state which required them to prove themselves 'Right'.
To understand how this becomes NVA, we must understand the social conditions in which people feel as if they need to be right ... or not, as the case may be. We must then understand if people will speak up or not, due to deeper 'Muri / Mura' issues, like 'Fear of Failure / Fear of rejection' (Remembering Dr. Deming cited 'Drive out Fear' at point 8 of his 14 points).
To "change", people have to 'WANT" to achieve something tomorrow different than they have achieved today. To 'Want' to find better ways of doing things (for the organisations benefit / their own benefit), the individual has to 'believe' in principles like VOC & Hoshin, and that these principles connect to their own experience of the world. Quite simply, if they don't believe in VOC as something 'Good' (WIIFM), their thoughts and behaviours won't align to it.
This is where there still remains a global disconnect undermining the worlds 'Lean' efforts to make improvements in business, it's just so prevalent and all encompassing, it's hard for the global market to see (See Margaret Heffernan's book - Wilful Blindness and investigate 'Confirmation bias' on google).
If there is no 'belief in the benefit' of another person's worldview (belief in what's 'Good'), all the process in the world will find it difficult to bridge cultural gaps and break old habits firmly rooted in historic beliefs (and lets face it, it's 'technical process' we've been fixated with for decades, not the 'people process' which is realistically the greatest factor in the world of organisational change). We only have to look to religion to see how powerful this can be, i.e. converting people who believe in their way of doing things to your way of doing things, like converting beliefs from Batch manufacture -to- Lean manufacturing, is, in principle, like asking a synagogue to convert to Islam, or a christian church to convert to Hinduism.
Even if fear of non-conformance (violence / punishment / being ostracised) see's a surface level change, [so people become socially acceptable in the environment promoting new beliefs], ... remove the pressure to conform (the fear of rejection) and they will return to their old beliefs in very short time periods - not to mention the opposition you provoke in groups of people who share a belief.
The 'DELAY' waste that is built into standard approaches taken toward organisational change, which systematically fails to acknowledge these 'people-process' issues, is immense and often the over-arching reason for excessive implementation cost's and change program failures. In the modern approach taken toward 'Organisational Change', We train to understand the technical process and control people (shutting them down), rather than training to effect their belief in what's good / of benefit, to ensure we provide the knowledge, worldview and relative responsibility which leads to a 'freedom to act'. We fail to understand and work with "the people process".
This links into the more accurate definition of 'Kaizen'. It doesn't and never did mean, Continuous Improvement. More accurately translated, it means "on-going goodness / benefit for all, with no one-person gaining at another's expense". Change is about the change that occurs in the adult mammalian brain (Neurogenesis - Gould et al). It is the physiological change at this level, which leads to change in reactions / behaviours and methods adopted to achieve outcomes (practical change in the outside world). This is a complex combination of Physical, Emotional and Social change rarely considered in sufficient depth.
Failing to establish what words we use, what they fundamentally mean and how they impact (and often detract from) the transfer of meaning, leads us directly back to concepts and principles the Originators of TPS called Muri and Mura (Non-Value Adding activity in people process terms).
To create conditions in which the adult mammalian brain can function at it's best, we have to remain cognoscente of issues like, assumption, blame and stress, created where confusion detracts from confidence. This happens largely when leaders, devoid of this understanding create conditions in which the belief is that people need to be controlled, rather than providing them process through which they can feel in control. This is a belief, driven to remain constant by bigger belief systems, like Keynesian economics (perpetual growth with finite resources) .... but a subtle shift in that belief (i.e. a belief in sustainability rather than the boom-n-bust growth we've pursued in business for the last 100yrs) would release more latent potential in organisations than one could imagine. There are many studies out there, (like Kotter and Heskett's landmark study) into such 'Culture change' efforts, which cite many 100's of % improvements in organisational value (growth) and performance.
To take this aspect of 'Waste' (NVA) on board we have to recognise this is a part of the belief system (an individuals worldview imprinted through nursing / toddling / learning / pre-adult and adult phases - i.e. the connections made in the brain through life experience) that has been missed by the world of Lean practitioners focused on Muda only (i.e. measurable process based deterministic methods of control.) and the business world at large. Even our MBA education courses only lightly touch on culture as a small percentage of the curriculum, typically wrapped up in headings like 'Ethics' and 'Organisational Behaviour', they are minute in presence compared to other subjects like, Marketing, Accounting, Quantitative analysis, Finance, Operations, Economics and Strategy ... even though such issues (The people process and culture) become the foundations on which all other subjects stand.
When it comes to 'people' (I think you'll agree, a relatively 'common denominator' in all organisational change / performance environments) we have to acknowledge that they do not follow deterministic rules, i.e. for every action there is typically an unequal and exponential reaction, rather than an opposite and equal reaction. It's because of this, we often fail to address Quality Cost Delivery (Performance) issues, in process, in sustainable ways ... failing to acknowledge the connection between deeper people process issues and overall performance of individuals, teams and thus organisations is the biggest 'Waste / Non-value adding' activity in the world, yet for all the psychological reasons I would love to explain, it's systematically omitted from our considerations ... For example, I've tried to post this message in various ways in various forums, only to have them removed by administrators who tell me they are not about 'Lean' .... ce la vie.