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Standardized Work: The Foundation for Kaizen (1 Day Class)

Standardized work is one of the most powerful but least used lean tools. By documenting the current best practice, standardized work forms the baseline for kaizen or continuous improvement. As the standard is improved, the new standard becomes the baseline for further improvements, and so on. Improving standardized work is a never-ending process.

Basically, standardized work consists of three elements:

  • Takt time, which is the rate at which products must be made in a process to meet customer demand.
  • The precise work sequence in which an operator performs tasks within takt time.
  • The standard inventory, including units in machines, required to keep the process operating smoothly.

Establishing standardized work relies on collecting and recording data on a few forms. These forms are used by engineers and front-line supervisors to design the process and by operators to make improvements in their own jobs. In this workshop, you'll learn how to use these forms and why it will be difficult to make your lean implementations "stick" without standardized work.

Suggested Reading:
This workshop assumes you are familiar with basic lean terms and concepts as described in Lean Thinking by Jim Womack and Dan Jones. A good article to read prior to attending is "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System" (Harvard Business Review).

The benefits of standardized work include documentation of the current process for all shifts, reductions in variability, easier training of new operators, reductions in injuries and strain, and a baseline for improvement activities.

Standardizing the work adds discipline to the culture, an element that is frequently neglected but essential for lean to take root. Standardized work is also a learning tool that supports audits, promotes problem solving, and involves team members in developing poka-yokes.

Course Outline:
This workshop is based on a "hear-see-do" format, so you'll learn the key concepts through instruction, discussion, simulation, and small-group exercise. You'll learn:

  • Standardized work basic concepts and examples from various industries.
  • The difference between work standardization and standardized work.
  • The three elements of standardized work (takt time, work sequence, standard in-process inventory).
  • The three documents for establishing standardized work (production capacity sheet, combination table, work chart).
  • The three requirements for standardized work (work, equipment and line, quality)
  • Standardization techniques: poka-yoke, visual management, SWIS, checking and auditing.
  • How to choose the standardization techniques suitable for your environment so that you can effectively ensure your process is consistent and your results are predictable.
  • The Toyota approach to kaizen.
  • How to observe work before you standardize it.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of standardization and its importance in the foundation of a lean system.
  • Prepare standardized work forms.
  • Introduce standardization techniques to improve:
    • Training
    • Waste elimination
    • Sustainability of improvements
    • Predictability of results

Who Should Attend:
Those who would benefit from this workshop include:

  • Operators (by understanding the importance of following standardized work rigorously and how they can make improvements through kaizen)
  • Line supervisors (by learning how to observe people's cycle times, movements, and process steps)
  • Engineers and lean leaders (by understanding how to introduce, support, and teach standardization)
  • Managers (by understanding how to audit for adherence)
  • Organizations at any stage in a lean transformation that are struggling with:
    • Failures to sustain the results from past kaizen events
    • Problems training new employees
    • Inability to work within takt time or consistent cycle times

Other Resources:

Standard Work Forms


Mike Kobashi Mike Kobashi
Mike has over 21 years manufacturing experience, including holding a variety of senior management positions in Operations Management, Lean and Six Sigma Deployment, Sales and Marketing, Business Unit Management and Information Technology. Mike was trained in TPS by the Toyota Logistics Group and is also a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt. He has taught executive level classes and has worked with companies in the pharmaceutical, medical diagnostic and device, computer, aircraft, footwear and personal care industries. Mike received his Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Systems from Arizona State University in 1985.
Sammy Obara Sammy Obara
LEI Faculty, President Honsha Associates
Honsha Associates

Sammy learned the Toyota Production System while working at Toyota Motors in Japan. For three years he underwent intense practical training at the Honsha Overseas Engineering Division in Toyota City. Then for 13 years, he implemented lean in a variety of Toyota facilities in Japan, Brazil, the United States, and Venezuela.

Sammy has hands-on experience implementing lean principles in other industries, including healthcare, construction, retail, and government. In all, he has helping over 300 companies on their lean journeys. He holds a master’s degree in technology management and has lectured at universities such as Stanford and Harvard. He currently aids companies implementing lean through Honsha Associates.

Mark Reich Mark Reich
Chief Operating Officer
Lean Enterprise Institute

Mark oversees day-to-day operations at LEI, including marketing, finance, strategy, publishing, conferences, and training.  He also supports new product development and leads the Co-Learning Partners program, assisting companies engaged in lean transformation.

Before coming to LEI, he spent 23 years at Toyota in Japan and North America, most recently as general manager of the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC). As a hands-on GM, Mark directly implemented the Toyota Production System (TPS) or managed its implementation in a variety of industries, including automotive, food, furniture, and healthcare, among others.

Mark doubled the number of companies supported by TSSC from 20 to 40. He transitioned it from for-profit to nonprofit status so it could better support its original mission to strengthen North American manufacturing and help any organization interested in implementing TPS. He expanded the client base beyond manufacturing to hospitals, schools, low-income food distribution, and nationally prominent nonprofits

Previously, he was assistant general manager of the corporate strategy division where he managed and implemented Toyota's North American strategic (hoshin) process, designed jointly with Toyota’s Japan headquarters. He launched efforts to strengthen Toyota Way principles in administrative areas in North America, and facilitated the integration of its design and manufacturing organizations.

Reich has a bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and specialized in Japanese studies at Nanzan University. He is fluent in written and spoken Japanese.

Art Smalley Art Smalley
Author and Consultant
Art of Lean

Art has immersed himself into the intricacies of problem solving since 1988, when he joined Toyota at its Kamigo Engine Plant in Toyota City, Japan. Taiichi Ohno was plant manager at Kamigo and conducted many of his famous experiments there that led to the development of the Toyota Production System. Art learned directly about problem solving from Tomoo Harada, who led the maintenance activities that created the stability that enabled Ohno’s innovations in flow to succeed. After leaving Toyota, Art became director of lean production operations at Donnelly Corp.  At McKinsey & Company, he was the firm’s leading expert in lean production. He currently aids companies implementing lean through Art of Lean.

Art is the author of the new book The Four Types of Problem Solving and theworkbook Creating Level Pull, which received a 2005 Shingo Research Award. He is coauthor with Durward Sobek of Understanding A3 Thinking, winner of a 2009 Shingo Research Award.He was inducted into the Shingo Prize Academy in 2006.

Suggested Reading for this Workshop:
Locations and Dates for Standardized Work: The Foundation for Kaizen

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Price: $800.00 ($700.00 if the participant is taking 2 or more workshops at one location)
Price includes all participant materials, breakfast, lunch and snacks each day

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Cancelation Policy
Our workshops are designed to cater to a limited number of participants.  If you must cancel a workshop registration, you will be given a full refund up to four weeks before the workshop. A cancelation occuring within four weeks of the workshop will be subjected to a $350 cancelation fee.  Substitutions may be made at any time prior to the start of the workshop. To cancel a workshop registration, please call LEI at (617) 871-2900.