Without Work Standards There Won’t be Standardized Work | Lean Frontiers

Without Work Standards There Won’t be Standardized Work

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About this article: This article is written by Oscar Roche and TWI Institute. Join Oscar for a free webinar titled, “Without Work Standards There Won’t Be Standardized Work,” Wed, Mar 25, 2020 2-2:30 PM EDT. Register today, space limited.


Tracy Defoe responded to our Jan 29 webinar with a truly brilliant comment – “I think the notion that the Work Standard is a hypothesis deserves to be on every manager and supervisor’s door so they approach workers with curiosity and compassion”. Wow, wouldn’t that alter our approach to lean! Thank you Tracey.

“Step up 1” in standardization is the development of Work Standards. In doing so we see 2 fundamental points to be very clear on. Firstly, the primary function of a Work Standard is to clearly communicate “normal”. This permits recognition of “abnormal” which is pivotal in the “step ups” following. Secondly, keep front of mind that the work standard is itself a hypothesis – if we apply “a” we hypothesize that the outcome will be “b” (and “b” will be “normal”). This lays the foundation for a scientific approach when “abnormal” occurs which it will!

There are essentially 3 types of work standards most easily seen from a manufacturing viewpoint so, for the sake of keeping it reasonably simple, we’ll take that view.

  • The first is a standard relating to quality of the output of the process or operation. For a milk bottling filler/packer system, the output is a case that holds “x” number of bottles of milk, 6 for example. Such a standard will make it very clear what is “normal”. “Normal” is established by the customer which may well be the consumer in this case and/or an internal customer, the warehouse for example. The hypothesis is that if the output is 100% to standard, i.e. all elements “normal”, then the customer (or consumer) will be satisfied with what they’ve got.
  • Second comes a machine or process standard. (Remember we are using a manufacturing example; the same principles apply to service.) Such a standard contains all the elements of the machine that impact the output (first standard above) and alongside lists “normal” settings. We can now determine “normal / abnormal” for the machine. The hypothesis is that if the machine elements are all “normal” then the output will be 100% to the output standard.
  • Third comes the people or system standard. (Again, we are using manufacturing as a reference but in service it would seem like there’d always be this type of standard.) Such a standard contains all the elements that the person (or automated system) carry out in order to have the machine set to and run within “normal” i.e. all the things needed to be done to achieve “normal” in the machine standard above. The hypothesis is that if the people/system elements are all “normal” then the machine will be set to and operate “normally”.

I trust you can see a connection through this sequence of work standards. This is what we’re seeing through application.


FREE WEBINAR: “Without Work Standards There Won’t Be Standardized Work,” Wed, Mar 25, 2020 2-2:30 PM EDT. Register today, space limited.

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Griffith Post School Options (GPSO) is an organization that recognized early on that risk will be best managed through the knowledge, skills and actions of their Frontline Leaders.

While the daily deliverable for GPSO is positive ‘participant outcomes’ and for every interaction for this to be the underlying intent, this must be done in an environment where the risk to the general wellbeing of participants and staff is sufficiently mitigated.

Coupled with that above, by late 2019 GPSO participant numbers were rapidly growing. Growth and risk were heading for a clash! Does that sound familiar?

In February 2020, a Situation Analysis was conducted where the objective was twofold:

  • With a view to providing a pathway toward building “practical compliance” and therefore better management of risk, examine day to day operations and how they link to policies and procedures already existing.
  •  Introduce key stakeholders to concepts and methods that, if applied, will assist GPSO to achieve one of their objectives being reduced risk.

In March 2020 TWI Institute Australia and NZ commenced work with GPSO (contained within a One-Page-Plan) with the guiding purpose being:

  •  With respect to risk management, build the capability of new Team Leaders (primarily) in building continuing alignment to system content at the “coalface”.

The first training then mentoring cycle was based around the skill of instructing using TWI Job Instruction as the practice method. The existing 3 Team Leaders were involved (Hanna, Tess, Catherine plus members of management). Then covid hit! Consequently, all mentoring immediately went to ‘live online’ so momentum wasn’t lost. Along side this Josephine (admin) focussed on building a software system to plan, manage and track training.

Around May 2020 a second group of Team Leaders were appointed (Brooke, Colleen, Cassie and Marc) making a total of 7. A training and mentoring cycle followed for all 7 focussing on the skill of leading using TWI Job Relations as the practice method. The second group of 4 then did their ‘skill of instructing’ (Job Instruction).

The last program all 7 did together was developing a program of Leader Standard Work. Other skills such as risk assessment was focussed on with support people. All the while, because of the excellent service being provided, participant numbers continued growing!

I’m sure readers of this will be thinking ‘well, what happened, what was the result?’ Or what happened along the way? Or perhaps you have other questions?

Here’s your opportunity. Join Josephine, Hannah and Brooke on 17 June (2pm EST) and hear what they have to say. Click here to register and submit your question.

Oscar Roche


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