Monday, January 18, 2016

Leader Standard Work is a Management System For Sustaining Gains

Courtesy of Beyond Lean Blog

Sustainability is discussed often and one of the great issues in management.  We have all seen facts related to the low rates of sustaining change or seen news about a company who lost its way. Unfortunately, we see all too often those companies who finally reach #1 to only lose their way.

Complacency can and will compromise the performance of your organization. Everyone can become complacent in their particular environment, and there are different levels of complacency. At higher management positions, complacency may be more latent. At the line personnel “trigger pullers” level, however, complacency can have catastrophic results.

There is no such thing as self-sustainability, it requires ongoing effort. Organizations need to follow a disciplined process of on-going activity by all.  Leader Standard Work is the system that provides a structure and routine for leaders.  It set standards for expected behaviors of leaders and drive accountability.

In simplest terms, Leadership Standard Work is a check-list of leadership activities to be performed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. What makes this tool exceptionally effective is that, when well defined, Leadership Standard Work drives process definition and daily accountability.

As with any standard work it is to create consistency in how a process is to be performed – to create a standard or routine. Once the standard is created it allows for non-standard conditions to be more readily identified. A non-standard condition can be that the process was not performed in the way it was meant to be done, or it is taking longer than it should, or it is not being done at all. The non-standard condition can trigger a corrective response or constitute an opportunity for improvement in the process.

Leader standard work, in the case of the first line supervisor, involves having a daily plan of what the leader’s key duties are. Those might specify, for example, at least three gemba walks and dialog with each person in the area each day.

As we go up the ladder, the plan could become weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc., depending on the level in the organization. For example, a plant manager might commit to a daily gemba walk to touch base with the value stream managers, supervisors and a few hourly associates in each area just to understand how the plant is running each day, what the issues are and, yes, to be visible to everyone.

Sounds simple enough, but this concept of Leadership Standard Work can be difficult to implement.  It is truly a culture change inside a culture change.  Leadership Standard Work can be divided into three components:

1.  Auditing and Verification of Direct Reports
It starts with the standard work tasks of the front line staff.  The supervisor begins the Leadership Standard Work cycle by verifying the standard work tasks of their direct reports.

That supervisor reports to a director.  That director’s standard work is verifying the standard work tasks of their supervisors.  The director reports to the administrator who verifies the standard work of the director.  The administrator reports to the executive as the standard work builds upward and the executive verifies the standard work of the administrator.

These are the interlocking layers of accountability that are the basis for sustainment.  This layering supports the disciplined adherence, the accountability and root cause problem-solving that is necessary for sustainment and is the first component when building Leadership Standard Work.

2.  Define the Outcome Metrics
What metrics indicate the department is performing well?

What are the process characteristics and attributes necessary to achieve those outcomes?

What are specific behaviors and tasks necessary to achieve those outcomes?

What are the controls in place to ensure those behaviors are present every day, in every case?

Defining the outcome metrics and determining how you as a leader can ensure these attributes, behaviors and controls are occurring is the second component when defining Leadership Standard Work.

3.  Leadership Tasks: 
These tasks are not meetings and answering emails.  These are process related tasks that must occur on regular intervals and fall into three categories:

1. Scheduled tasks -put the appropriate audits in place to ensure disciplined adherence to process

2. Unscheduled but predictable tasks – ensure adherence to service level targets

3. Unscheduled and unpredictable tasks – ensure adherence to service level targets and no disruption to scheduled tasks to accomplish.

Leadership Standard Work is built into the natural stream of your day and your work.  It allows you to be proactive when addressing problems and gives you the opportunity to truly understand the manner in which your unit, your department, or your hospital is functioning.

Leadership Standard Work is the engine, the driver and the impetus for sustainment of a Lean management system and the transformation to a Lean culture.


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