What is standard or standardized work? What is its role in Lean? Is it difficult to implement? What are some examples?

We will use several sources to address these topics in order. 

What is standard or standardized work and its role in Lean? 

Standard work defined: A precise description of each work activity, specifying cycle time, takt time, the work sequence of specific tasks and the minimum inventory of parts on hand needed to conduct the activity. All jobs are organized around human motion to create an efficient sequence without waste. Work organized in such a way is called standard(ized) work. The three elements that make up standard work are takt time, working sequence and standard in-process stock (see individual listings).

The definition spells out Standard Work’s role in Lean. As mentioned, there are three required elements:

  • Takt Time
  • Work Sequence
  • Standard In-Process Stock

We won’t focus on the details of those elements because they are easily covered elsewhere.

The definition is from the ASQ Quality Glossary

For a fun, quick look at Standardized Work, we refer to True North Thinking, Inc.’s video on Dishwashing which lists their take on required elements as mentioned in ASQ’s definition.

  • Takt Time
  • Standard Work Chart
    • Movement, Location, Time, and Sequence
  • Standard In-Process Stock

You can view True North Thinking, Inc.’s video here.

Standard Work Implementation

For this we turn to a short video from Mark Anderson, Founder of Leanvlog which mentions their 9 tips and rules for implementation of standard work in a process.

  • Final users write it with support of safety, process, and quality specialists
  • It is easy to understand by new employees
  • It is very precise
  • Visual photos, videos, sketches support the user and can be consulted quickly
  • Quality and safety risks are underlined and countermeasures to avoid them are clearly explained
  • Employees read the standard work before starting activities the first time each day
  • The standard work document is live, and employees review it on a weekly basis
  • Standard work and adherence to it are audited by each leader daily
  • Standardization culture is rewarded

You can view Leanvlog’s video here.

Standard Work Examples

Finally, we turn to Brad Cairns, partner at Quantum Lean for some actual examples in a factory including:

  • Delivery driver shipping process
  • Finishing viscosity test
  • Packing station standard

You can view Brad’s video here.