Spelling Equals Standard Work

Push for simpler spelling persists

This idea iz stoopid. You can’t haf peepole saying “this speling works beter for mee”.

Spelling properly is a form of standard work. Try reading the article I’ve linked to. The author is being cute by using a lot of her own spelling. Was it more difficult to read? Sure, you could figure it out, but why should reading be an exercise in figuring out someone else’s spelling.

The arguments for everyone spelling their own way sound like the common arguments against “Standard Work” in a lean setting.

  • “But it’s easier for me to do it this way.”
  • “This way works for me.”
  • “Who are you to tell me how to do things?”

Letting kids spell things their own way because it’s too hard to spell things the proper way, that’s sad. In a factory, do we give up on making quality vehicles because “it’s hard?” Do we stop trying to prevent medical errors because “it’s hard?”

Sometimes doing “what’s hard” helps you in the long run. Let’s not let folks take the easy or lazy way out. In spelling, in factories, or hospitals, let’s hold people accountable to the right way of doing things.

One last analogy with spelling and standard work. Standard work is meant to be improved on over time (this is the idea of “kaizen”). Standard work is not static. The English language is not static either. It’s just easier to get consensus or agreement among 30 people on a production line to change standard work than it is get consensus about changing a language. Progress and change with language is one thing, let’s just not let it become a free-for-all.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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