There is real value in standard work. It helps us share knowledge across departments, locations and an entire enterprise. It helps us remember how to efficiently complete infrequent but important tasks. And it allows us to spread best practices from person to person.
As lean leaders and practitioners, however, we must recognize that there is a potential conflict between standard work and the idea of continuous improvement. If we’re always working to improve things, where does that leave standard work?
The simple answer is that standard work is standard, not stagnant. We can share current best practices without abandoning our quest for better practices. Knowledge sharing does not mean that we’ve hardened processes and information in concrete.
In the operational excellence quest, we should consider standard work as the baseline. Every time an improvement is made to standard work, a new baseline is set upon which the next improvement will be made.
When introducing and discussing standard work, it is important that we communicate the expectation that standard work can and should evolve. It is a living document that calls for continuous innovation and improvement. Those on your team who rely on standard work need to know that they are empowered to make it better. If you’re a leader, go to the gemba and work collaboratively to improve standard work.
By creating an environment where improvements to standard work are the norm, you’ll create an opportunity to build trust and buy-in for the job you’re trying to complete. Standard work is an important element of efficient work, but if you avoid stagnation, it can also be a rallying point for continuous improvement.
This year's annual conference program is all about embracing disruption in our processes. At AME Dallas 2022, we will explore technologies that are changing the way work is done, hear from leading-edge companies on embracing world-class DE&I, talk to practitioners that are making some incredible changes in their sustainability practices, and more. Best of all, we'll tour local companies and see how they are defying stagnancy first-hand. You have until June 30th to take advantage of our last chance discount pricing and save 20 percent!
As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.