Making Standard Work Stick

During a recent sales presentation to a prospective client, the issue of Standardization came up. This company has multiple factories around the globe and is struggling with a lack of harmonization between them.
As an example, different lines in different factories would use their own settings on SMT lines, rather than follow the standard. Even between shifts in the same factory there were differences. They are making the same product so the settings should be the same. How do we get people to Standardize?
After asking a few clarifying questions, a few interesting things became clear.
1) People use the environmental and equipment differences as justification for coming up with their own settings
2) The more highly educated and trained operators tend to adjust settings more than the less educated workers
First, there are probably some genuine reasons that “the best” settings from one plant may not be the best for another. Standards are set to be improved, and deviation from the standard should have a demonstrable, fact-based improvement (overcome differences in temperature, etc.)
Second, people want to think and be creative. It’s more fun to solve problems, even if it means being scolded for changing the settings. So how to make standards, and in particular Standard Work, stick?
At Toyota they say that there are two things that are part of everyone’s job. First, follow Standard Work. Second, find a better way to do your job. This is a simple idea, but it’s a big one.
How many of our processes have been Standardized, much less fully documented as Standard Work? How many of us know the best way to do the job and do it that way every time. How many of us continuously measure and improve this standard and re-document it?
All of the tools of Lean/TPS are great, and the culture of empowerment and daily improvement is wonderful. At the end, making it stick requires a firm commitment by management to required Standard Work as a foundation of continuous improvement, from everyone.

2 Comments

  1. Harold.Becklin

    June 16, 2007 - 4:45 pm

    Before writing Standard Work consider the following:
    1. The Conceptual Model
    2. The preconditions for standard work

  2. Jason Williams

    July 25, 2007 - 9:56 am

    Great article and great Web site, thanks for the valuable information!