Home > Education> Lean Workshops & Seminars> Standardized Work: The Foundation for Kaizen

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

Sign up to be notified when this workshop is available in your area.

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


Art Smalley

Art is the author of the LEI workbook Creating Level Pull: a lean production-system improvement guide for production control, operations, and engineering professionals, which received a 2005 Shingo Research Award. He was inducted into the Shingo Prize Academy in 2006. Art learned about lean manufacturing while living, studying, and working in Japan for 10 years as one of the first foreign nationals to work for Toyota. He spent the majority of his Toyota career helping the company transfer its production, engineering, and management systems to facilities around the world. After leaving Toyota, Art became director of lean production operations at Donnelly Corp., (now part of Magna Inc.), a tier one automotive supplier with more than 15 plants in North America and Europe. Art subsequently joined McKinsey & Company, where he was the firm’s leading expert in lean manufacturing. He currently aids companies implementing lean through Art of Lean.

Sammy Obara

Samuel learned the Toyota Production System while working in Toyota Motors in Japan. For three years he underwent intense practical training at the Honsha Overseas Engineering Division in Toyota City. For thirteen consecutive years, he implemented lean in several of the Toyota facilities in Japan, Brazil, the United States, and Venezuela. Samuel has gained experience in other industries, including healthcare, construction, retail, and government, helping over 300 companies in their lean journey. He holds a Masters Degree in Technology Management and has lectured in universities such as Stanford and Harvard. He currently aids companies implementing lean through Honsha Associates.

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.

Mark Reich

As a hands-on general manager of the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC), Mark Reich directly implemented the Toyota Production System (TPS) or managed its implementation in a variety of industries, including automotive, food, furniture, and healthcare, among others.

Reich spent a total of nine years at TSSC, established by Toyota to share TPS know-how with North American companies. During a busy two-year tenure as GM, Reich doubled the number of companies supported from 20 to 40. He transitioned TSSC 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 also expanded the client base beyond manufacturing to hospitals, schools, low-income food distribution, and other nationally prominent nonprofits.

During 23 years at Toyota, Reich held a number of posts in Japan and North America. 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 graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree and specialized in Japanese studies at Nanzan University. He is fluent in written and spoken Japanese.

Suggested Reading for this Workshop:
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

Locations and Dates for Standardized Work: The Foundation for Kaizen
April 15
Seattle Airport Marriott
Seattle, WA
Instructor(s): Sammy Obara
Schedule: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sold Out

We encourage you to make hotel accommodations early.

Sign up to be notified when this workshop is available in your area.

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.