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Monday, July 14, 2014

Standard work for lean experts

Hypocrites?  I can't think of a better word.  Let me explain.  Many organizations are not getting everything out of their improvement efforts.  So using lean thinking, we have to diagnose the root cause of the lack of results.

The common culprits;  lack of leadership, no real-time problem solving, and no visual management to discern normal from abnormal are not going to be discussed.  I have committed substantial commentary to the subjects in previous blogs.  I want to discuss lack of standard work.

We should know by now that standard work is the underpinning of lean success and improved performance. Lean tools exist to help to make waste visible and then eliminate those wastes.  The concepts of continuous flow, pull, and zero defects have been well documented and eliminate many of the seven forms of operational waste.   But the waste will return if the remaining work is not standardized.

Standard work represents the safest, easiest, best know way to do something.  It is recipe that when followed leads to the highest quality, shortest lead-time, and lowest cost way to complete a process.  It brings life to flow, and pull, and defect free.

Any credible lean expert will be competent with standard work, and can teach the concepts, document the process and teach team members how train and certify team members in standard work.  

So here is my question, when it comes to managing an improvement cycle using the scientific method, where is your standard work?

To get the most out of your improvement process,  four things need to be considered.
1. Standard work should exist and be utilized when preparing for improvement.
2. Standard work should exist and be used when running and improvement.
3. Standard work should exist and be used when sustaining improvement.
4. Standard work should be followed.

Do you have written standard work?  Do you follow it?  If are a hypocrite. And it might be costing you some improved performance.  Poor preparation, poor event execution, and poor sustainability all lead to sub optimal results.

So if you have a standard work gap, you can now take a countermeasure.

Lean blessings,


Ron Bercaw
President and Sensei
Breakthrough Horizons Ltd


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