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Operational Standard Work

Standard Work is the best-known way to perform the work based on the know-how and expertise of the people who do the work regularly. It creates predictability, stability, improves safety, productivity, and quality of work.

Image by Jonas Morgner

Are you struggling to provide clear instructions to your team on how to effectively perform their work in a safe and productive environment by following standard work practices?

Are you losing proprietory knowledge when subject matter experts leave or retire from your organization?

Standard Work provides clear instructions about how to complete the work, the performance expectations, and the standards that need to be met. It represents the best-known way to perform work based on the know-how and expertise of the people who do the work regularly.
It creates predictability and stability, which improves safety, productivity, and quality of work. It reduces stress, chaos, cost, and accelerates training and onboarding. It engages team members to create a foundation for problem-solving and continuous improvement.
Image by Jason Blackeye

Why is air travel considered one of the safest activities you can engage in?

Because pilots don’t have their own way of operating. Before every flight, even commercial pilots with 20 years of experience, rely heavily on checklists. They perform pre-flight tests of the same items in the exact same sequence every time.

It’s their standard work!

Image by Blake Guidry

Standard work processes provide stability and predictability in flight, engineering, law firms, manufacturing, hospitals, government, financial services - across all industries and sectors.

How We Can Help

We follow a 4-step structured approach to design and implement standard work by learning, observing, and analyzing the work with the frontline and support staff.

We, coach, facilitate, and engage work teams in sharing their knowledge and ideas to ensure the successful buy-in and rollout of the new standard work.
  • We start by understanding what good looks like, and what standards need to be met.

  • We design the work, so team members can perform it as safely, effectively, and efficiently as possible.

  • We experiment to assure the process incorporates the current, best-known way of performing the work. 

  • If our testing confirms the process is delivering the required results, then the design is set and documented as standard work.

  • The standardized process is operationalized by training all of the team members who perform the work

  • The team then begins to use the standard work.

  • We check if the people are following the standard work and if the process is performing as intended.

  • If required, we adjust the process or provide additional training, to enable team members to perform work as designed.

  • We analyze and address any gaps that may surface during the check phase to improve the work and results.

What's the best format to document Standard Work?
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The best format in which to document standard work depends on the work:

  • Step-by-step instructions may be sufficient for some work environments and processes, while others may need a combination of work instructions, a checklist, and an approval matrix.

  • Some work teams benefit from standard work formatted on a 5x7 inch laminated card, while others benefit from a wall poster in the work area showing process steps and the standards that must be met.

Standard Work Roll Out
Effective rollout begins the moment an organization commits to operating with standard work, or when a work team sees the need to improve existing standard work. 
Image by bruce mars

“Why?” is well understood

All team members need to understand why standard work is needed, or why it needs to be improved. 

Effective Training
Standard work isn’t considered operational until everyone has received effective training and is performing the work as designed. Training environment to replicate the real work environment as closely as possible.

Image by Jason Goodman
Image by Barney Yau

Posted where work is done
Make the standard work documentation available by posting it in the work area; at multiple places if necessary. Print the document 2-sided so it's visible from multiple angles. Laminate it for durability. 

Check via Leader Standard Work
Incorporate checks of standard work in the leader standard work, and reinforce new standard work in daily management huddles. When a leader observes issues, document and addresses them with the team at the huddle.

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