Lean Post: Standardization is a Countermeasure, Not a Goal

Today’s post is being hosted by the Lean Enterprise Institute and their “Lean Post” blog… click on the headline below or the image to read:

Standardization is a Countermeasure, Never the Goal

It’s a post that encourages people to “ask why” when thinking about standardized work, 5S, and other Lean practices.

Instead of thinking “what tool should we implement?” the question should be “what problem are we trying to solve?”

The same tool or tactic (putting tape around a stapler) might be really helpful in one environment because it prevents a problem (such as at a nurse’s station) and it might be silly and antagonizing in another situation (an individual officesome worker’s desk).

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lean stapler 5s


Some other recent Lean Post articles that I particularly liked include:


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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 book 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.


  1. BS says

    Definitely agree. My former organization emphasizes standardization as the first step in continuous improvement when it should be understanding the problem. The organization is mindlessly running around developing standards and wondering why the new standards are often ineffective.

  2. Dale Savage says

    Recently someone asked me “Where do we start with Lean?” My answer was, “Where you see the problems and that will determine which “tools” you use.” They had already had an “expert” consultant who seemed to follow a checklist of the tools which had to be implemented to make the company “lean”. Although I believe the intentions were good, and some improvements were obtained, there was not a transformation of the culture into a problem solving, continuous improvement environment. Hopefully the correct approach will result in engaged employees and tap into their ideas for taking care of the issues they face every day.

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