“Standard” vs. “Standardized” Work in Lean
I responded to a question that was posed on the NWLean email/web group. It asked about the use of the phrase “standardized work” instead of “standard work.” Was this like “preventive maintenance” instead of “preventative maintenance?”
I think there *is* a key distinction in standardized instead of standard.
As I wrote, I have moved toward using “Standardized” almost exclusively in the last year (or at least I try) The word “standard” seems to imply inflexible, an absolute set of steps. “Standardized” is more of a direction — it’s somewhat standardized, but there might still be room for judgment in how the work is done. “Standard” says “you do maintenance at 10 AM, no matter what” while “Standardized” implies “do it at 10 AM if possible, but do it a bit earlier or a bit later, if customer needs mandate it.” To me, “standardized” gives more leeway for professional judgment, whether a surgeon, medical laboratory technologist, or subway maintenance tech.
The book Toyota Talent gives a good description of this mindset. We don’t want “standard” for the sake of standard. It should be “standardized,” not necessarily “identical” and absolute. We standardize processes that should be standardized for the sake of quality, safety, cost, etc
We have to standardize to the right level of detail. Too often, it seems people go and standardize without thinking through “why.” If you standardize without explaining why or it’s forced on people, they’ll resist and maybe understandably so.