Can your team be high performing without standardized work?

An improvement has been identified and implemented yet it is not being followed successfully – ever wonder WHY?  There may be several causes why the team members are not following the change (see table for other possible causes).  Let’s explore one of those reasons – the existence of GOOD standardized work


What is Standardized Work?

  • The documented best-known method of the work with identified important steps and key knowledge within the steps


  • The process used to generate, document, store and revise the standardized work for everyone to follow
  • Input to the development of talent; serves as the basis for training


Why should you care about documenting and using standardized work?

  • Improves Performance

– Eliminates the need for everyone to figure it out themselves

– Reduces variation in an individual’s performance and between people in the same work process – gets everyone to the best-known way

– Enables best practice sharing between team and locations

  • Reduces chaos and frustration for the team
  • Makes training much more effective and efficient
  • Enables easier job sharing and flexibility
  • It is a powerful basis for further improvement – standardized work helps you see more of the waste in a process, improve, and innovate!

Do you have a good process for standardized work?

  • Does it exist particularly for processes that impact quality, timeliness, and cost?
  • Is it coached by supervisors?
  • Created by people doing the work?
  • Easy to find?
  • Easy to use?
  • Easy to understand?
  • Easy to change?


 Documenting standardized work can be done in various formats*

Knowledge Document

  • Most detailed format; may be several pages long; similar to a procedure
  • Contains all detailed work process information, in the sequence in which it is performed
  • Designed for complicated or less frequently performed operations and new users

Single Point Guidelines

  • Medium level of detail; typically, 1-3 pages long
  • Includes only key process tasks in the sequence of operation, not all detail
  • Highlights critical steps, especially those prone to error
  • Very visual, with photos and illustrations

Process Map

  • Can contain varying levels of detail
  • Visual representation of the flow of steps in a process
  • Similar to a flowchart, but with designated roles
  • Contains key points, resources needed, standards of performance


And supported by Visual controls and mistake proofing devices to help you do it the right way!

  • Simple images, templates, checklists or devices providing the instruction
  • Reading not required






*from “Lean Champions Resource Guide”, Chris Bujak, Chris Schucker, & Raphael Vitalo Vital Enterprises


How do you get started? What are the steps to creating good standardized work?

  1. Identify target process – Which are the most important steps to cover with standardized work?
  2. Determine the Applicability/Scope (e.g. all locations)
  3. Determine goals and measures of work output
  4. Decide the level of detail and format needed (see pictures for format examples)
  5. Establish the repository and management for standardized work; Where kept? Who updated/maintains as better approaches are identified?
  6. Create the standardized work; What are the important steps; what are the key pieces of information and why?
  7. Test and update with people who do the work


Give it a Try using this template!

Let us know how you did, what questions you have, and show us your example!