Geko Operative

Perfection is not about always succeeding; it is about being aware of your failures and successes, weaknesses and strengths and about you neutralising the former and growing the latter

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Standardised Work

Following on from my previous post on discipline, where I observed that the adherence to standardised work is the manifestation of discipline, I have researched what some thought leaders have to say on the subject of standardised work.

John Shook, now CEO of Lean Enterprise Institute, wrote a series of articles in October 2009 titled "Five Missing Pieces in your Standardized Work" for the LEI. Check out the articles here: 1 2 3

He makes some insightful points including...

  • Standardised work can not be dictated from above and the moment you finding yourself chasing compliance you are in trouble. Of course it is to be expected that standardised work is not complied with 100% of the time but, when a divergence is noticed, we should understand why the standardised work work was not complied with and the reason is often valid.
  • Standardised work is a baseline for improvement.
  • Don't impose standardised work without providing a framework for continuous improvement. This is John Shook's main insight which is that there must be a balance between social/people (kaizen) and technical/process (standardised work) for an enterprise to succeed. One without the other will only lead to failure in the long run.
  • Standardised work can only be created and modified by people who deeply understand the process whether that is the individual operator performing the work or the line leader, etc.

A bit closer to home is Jamie Flinchbaugh's November 2011 article, "Building Manager Standard Work" for industryweek.com. The article argues that manager standard work "can be a powerful mechanism to create alignment, build consistency, improve management and shift from reactive to proactive." and makes the following points.

  • Manager standard work is about standardising work of the knowledge worker
  • Simple and already routine tasks should not be standardised. Standardising an already existing standard is a waste of time. However I would add a caveat here and argue that routine administrative tasks of the knowledge should be standardised - just don't write 'check email' on your standardised worksheet.
  • The principles of 5S is not restricted in its application to the shop floor alone. You can 5S your time
  • You can't control everything and so don't try to. Determine key control points (the points in your environment that control the system outcomes) and standardise your management around them.

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