Standard Work for Ice Cream


No, not for home consumption, but I ended up with a 3 gallon tub of ice cream (used for a Lean batching vs single-piece flow demonstration in a work setting).

I was a bit surprised to see such specific “standard work” for scooping ice cream, aimed at a commercial setting apparently. Click on the picture for a larger image, but here is the process:

  1. Store at -10 F to -20F
  2. Proper dipping temperature is 8F
  3. Tap dipper lightly to remove water
  4. Begin scooping on the outside wall. Scoop in a circular motion, rolling the ice cream along.
  5. The next dipperful should begin where the last left off, again rolling in a circular motion. Roll – don't dig!!
  6. Remember, keep the ice cream covered when not dipping and handle the product as little as possible.

Since I've been reading about standard work in the new book, Toyota Talent, it's hard not to overanalyze this. I'm just amazed that a scoop, er, a “dipperful”, of ice cream could be so complicated. Storing ice cream in a 10 degree range seems reasonable, but how critical is 8 degrees for dipping? Is this slightly over-specified? How bad does the process work at 6 degrees or 12 degrees?

Step 5 seems like an example of an opportunity for a “Key Point,” as described in the book. A Key Point is something that's of particular interest for safety, quality, etc. A Key Point describes “what” the point is and also “why.” Explaining “why” is the difference between “Because I said so” and “Because you're a professional who can be trusted to understand why.”

Roll, don't dig! “Why?” Is this for a properly shaped scoop? For employee ergonomics? The current standard work just barks at the customer a bit, doesn't it?

Click out this post for a “Training Within Industry” view of how to scoop (and how to train the scooper!)

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Hi Mark,

    I’m intrigued! Any chance of a brief description of your demo involving the ice-cream? I am always looking for new ways to simulate single-piece flow vs batching in my consulting and this sounds interesting (not to mention tasty!)


    Rob G


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