Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Guest Post: Standard Work Enables and Facilitates Improvment


Today, I am happy to be contributing a guest post on Matt Wrye's Beyond Lean Blog. Matt posed the question to his readers last month asking what topic they would like to see a series on.  In this series he would ask 4-5 people to write about the chosen topic posting an article a day for the week.  This is a great idea as you can get various view points on the subject to thoroughly understand it.  Standardized work received 33% of the votes resulting in the chosen theme.

Here is a short introduction to my post:

Standard work is a written description of how a process should be done. It guides consistent execution. At its best, it documents a current "best practice" and ensures that it is implemented throughout a company. At a minimum, it provides a baseline from which a better approach can be developed.

The definition of standard work is "the most effective combination of manpower, materials and machinery". Standard work is the method, and thereby you have the four Ms of manufacturing (manpower, material, machinery, methods). Standard Work is only "the most effective" until the standard is improved.

Standards to a company are like scales and sheet music to a musician. Our team members help develop and maintain standards, which are not static. Standards change as we get better, just as a good band will incorporate chord and melodic variations if they sound good. Thus, standards do not constrain creativity – they enable it, by providing a basis for comparison, and by providing stability, so we have the time and energy to improve.

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To learn more how standard work can enable and facilitate improvement continue reading here. Be sure to check out the other posts on Beyond Lean about Standard Work as well.


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