Mark Graban's - Lean Healthcare, Lean Hospitals, Healthcare Kaizen, Lean Thinking, Lean Manufacturing, Toyota Production System

Standard Work and Kaizen and Standard Work


This is not a news article, but an expansion of a posting I sent to the NWLean message group. A poster had asked about implementing standard work and someone raised the concern (I've heard it from operators) that standard work is inflexible.

Before anyone in your organization says that standard work (always doing things “the one best way”) inhibits change and seems inflexible, point out that standard work documents are by no means permanent. Without a solid shared baseline understanding of the process, any changes are “random” rather than being controlled experiments. Any identified improvement to the process, when tested and proved to be an improvement, is shared with all workers and becomes the updated standard work.

I have a Toyota publication that puts it this way, and I love the wording they use:

  • “Standardized Work: The Basis for Kaizen
  • Kaizen: The Lifeblood of Standard Work”

You can't have true kaizen without first having standard work. Standard Work is not done just to define “today's method” (although that's often beneficial!). Rather, it is done so that you have the baseline to drive improvement. It's a never ending loop from standard work to kaizen back to standard work and back to more kaizen.

Do you have experiences with Standard Work to share? See this link  for definitions straight from Toyota Georgetown.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. 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 book is the anthology 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. He is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled Measures of Success.

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