"People tend to think that they need a process for everything, and once in a while you hear 'We're going to dummy-proof it.' But if you dummy-proof the process, you only get dummies to work there." — Reed Hastings, CEO Netflix
People are often concerned that Lean efforts, including standardized work, will turn them into unthinking robots. Many Lean methods are used so that abnormalities are clearly visible and therefore can be reacted to. It is not about mindless conformity. Lean creates a baseline so improvement can occur by freeing up mental capacity from doing the routine in order to think about how the process could work better.
A common myth about standardized work is that many think of a rigid work environment where workers aren’t required to think. This is totally the opposite. Operators are part of the creation of the work standard and then are challenged to improve these methods. The standard creates a baseline by which improvement can be measured. Ideas should be discussed with group leaders and considered depending upon the consensus and buy-in from other members and shifts. Once consensus is reached then experimentation can be done to determine the effectiveness of the improvement. If it is deemed an effective change then the standardized work can modified and everyone trained in the new method.
The worst kind of waste is the lack of employee involvement and creativity. Lean doesn’t work unless everyone is involved and has input. We must involve employees in the continuous improvement process because the people actually carrying out the job know how to do that job better. A truly Lean culture respects people and engages them in continuous improvement.