Updated: GM Shows "Standard Work" to Journalists?
What we call Lean or TPS, they call “GMS”:
General Motors Corp. touts its global manufacturing system as the reason it's been able to improve quality and get more efficient every year. But for many, it remains an esoteric concept.
Reporters were invited in:
To help explain, GM invited more than a dozen automotive journalists to participate in a training program Friday at its Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant. The writers had to execute “standardized work”– precisely following a set of prescribed steps to do a job.
Once the most efficient way to do a job has been determined, GM executives said, the work must be done exactly the same way every time. That reduces the chance of forgetting a step.
It's a short article and maybe a short exercise, but there are a few things that might be missing in this exercise:
- The people doing the work are supposed to write the standard work, or at least have input. Standard Work isn't the “do as you're told system.”
- Standard Work includes “kaizen,” or continuous improvement. It's your job to follow the standard, but also (and maybe more importantly) to come up with ways of IMPROVING the work sequence and methods. If GM didn't have the reporters do that, the point was missed, big time.
I wasn't there, so I realize I'm in the realm of speculation. But, I hope GM is really involving workers and is not continuing in the Taylorist path of “we'll determine the best method, you follow it.” That didn't work BEFORE it was called a “global manufacturing system” and Taylorism certainly isn't “Lean.” It might even be “L.A.M.E.” (Lean as Misguidedly Executed).