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How Standardized Work Integrates People With Process

by John Y. Shook
April 1, 2019

How Standardized Work Integrates People With Process

by John Y. Shook
April 1, 2019 | Comments (0)

"I like to say that the Toyota Way is a socio-technical system on steroids. A test for all our lean systems is the question of how well we integrate people with process (the social with the technical). Nowhere does that come together more than in the form of standardized work and kaizen."

This quote from John Shook kicks off an ambitious 3-part series drilling down into the meaning of standardized work and how it embodies both the technical and social dimensions of work at the micro level at all times. His series, which was published a decade ago as e-letters, is a classic example of deeply knowledgeable writing on Lean essentials that capture its essence at both the personal and practical, the workstation and the system. 

In part one, he expands on five missing pieces in your standardized work:

  1. Don't confuse standardized work with work standards.
  2. Don't confuse standardizationwith commonization.
  3. Don't try to impose standardized work without also providing a structured improvement process, a clearly defined, unambiguous means of making improvements (kaizen).
  4. Practice, practice, practice...
  5. Don't forget the critical role of the leader/manager.

In part 2, John elaborates on the need for patience and discipline over time, noting:  “There is a saying in Japanese, ‘Three years on a rock,’ meaning that it takes about three years to deeply learn any subject of substance.”

One reader was moved to quote a key statement from this article:

“At some point every high level objective comes down to a matter of how someone on the front lines performs his or her work. This is where, as the saying goes, the rubber meets the road. Until it's reflected in someone's standardized work, any corporate objective or initiative is just talk or words on a piece of paper.”

And in the third piece, Shook shares an introductory outline of SW, applying elements of LEI’s 3P framework of Purpose, Process, and People.

Please enjoy this series, and share comments and or questions. How is your SW coming along? 

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