Why Isn’t Work Standard?

Are You Really Asking? by Mark Graban

The worst form would be, “Why the hell aren’t you following the standard work??? How many times do I have to emphasize that??” A better approach might be, “It appears that the standard work isn’t being followed. Why is this the case? Has something changed? Is there a problem we need to fix?” (as a legitimate question that you want the answer to).

Good advice. When standard work is not followed by one person then it might be that intervention with that one person is needed (or in some cases it might be that person found a better way and you need to update the standard and figure out why the standard wasn’t updated before – probably a system problem, annoying to follow procedure to get improvement adopted…). Much more often “policy” (which might be similar to standard work – but I think standard work really requires a system that is missing in places where “standard work” is not standard at all) is not followed in general – everyone does their own thing.

Then obviously (at least to someone that understands management) the issue is why does the documented standard work differ from the practice and why is management allowing such a divergence… Fix the system. What needs to be worked on is the failure of the management to create a system where standard work is the way work is done, not blaming everyone for not following the standard in various ways. Often this can be the practice, though not as obvious as stated, for example, when common cause errors are examined as special causes. Instead of looking at all the data, the error in question is examined, hey they didn’t follow x procedure – obviously they are to blame. Ah yeah look a bit more – no one ever follows that procedure (or what crazy system design allows that type of error to be possible): European Blackout: Human Error-Not.

Related: Visual Work InstructionsFind the Root Cause Instead of the Person to Blamevariation description

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