During recent delivery of our University of Michigan Lean Leadership program, as well as several other conversations over the past few months it is clear that there still remains some confusion about what constitutes 'Leader Standard Work' as well as its purpose. Several people asked, "Can't we just put it in Microsoft Outlook, LotusNotes or some similar program?" In this newsletter we'll take a look at this important concept and tool.
First let's discuss the purpose of leader standard work. As with any standard work it is to create consistency in how a process is to be performed - to create a standard or routine. Once the standard is created it allows for non-standard conditions to be more readily identified. A non-standard condition can be that the process was not performed in the way it was meant to be done, or it is taking longer than it should, or it is not being done at all. The non-standard condition can trigger a corrective response or constitute an opportunity for improvement in the process.
Leader Standard Work (LSW) is the standard or routine for a particular leadership role. It should include the activities that a leader is expected to perform. The activities should include those needed to 'run the business' - the day-to-day tasks necessary to support the value adding processes performed in the leader's area of responsibility. They should also include those activities necessary to 'improve the business' (more discussion later). It is not a job description. The time it should take to perform each activity can be included. Timing - specific points in time that an activity should be performed - should be included if important. Many 'running the business' type activities need to be performed at particular times of the day, week or month. For example, there are typically beginning and end of the day or shift routines. In contrast, many 'improving the business' activities are not and should not be performed at specific times. For example, a leader will want to observe a particular process firsthand at different times in order to see if standard work for that process is being followed all the time.
Leader Standard Work should include details on how each activity should be performed. These are referred to as 'key points'. Details that matter on how an activity is to be properly done are included in leader standard work. For example, perhaps an activity is best performed using a visual management device, or a specific checklist should be used. These should be noted in the LSW. Included in the 'how' can be the people who should be involved so that the activity is performed effectively. The key points better insure that each activity is consistently and effectively done. It is also recommended to include the reasons for the key points. By noting the reasons, people are more likely to follow them over time.
In part two the GEMBA Walk will be discussed as part of Leader Standard Work.
This post was written by Drew Locher, Managing Director of Change Management Associates. To learn more about this post please contact Mr. Locher at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the many concepts of LEAN please contact the LEAN Accountants of McKonly and Asbury, LLP.