The Lean Office Blog

Four Benefits of Leader Standard Work

Today’s post highlights four benefits Lean managers can realize by using Leader Standard Work.

Ileader standard work graphs there another tool in the Lean toolbox that gets more publicity, but is actually used less than Leader Standard Work? I’m convinced based on personal experience and stories from others that the graph to the right is pretty accurate.

So, what’s the deal? If Leader Standard Work is such a critical component of your company’s Lean Management System, why don’t more people use it? Perhaps if we understood the “why” behind the tool, it would help. Below are four benefits of using this incredibly powerful tool in your own operation.

Benefits of Leader Standard Work

  • Process Stability – We’ve spoken about entropy before, and in many ways, Leader Standard Work is the first line of defense against processes breaking down. Leader Standard Work should include daily, purposeful time spent observing the process with gemba walks, and what better way to see which processes are breaking down than observing the process?
  • Fire Prevention – In many organizations, managers who are the best firefighters are consideredfirefighter the best managers. In a Lean organization, however, managers who have to spend  a lot of time fighting fires don’t have time to dedicate to truly solving problems, they’re too busy just trying to contain them. A Lean manager who spends purposeful time observing the process throughout the day will see the problem (smoke) before it significantly impacts the rest of the operation (raging inferno). You can then spend the time you would have spent on containing the impact of the problem on figuring out why the problem occurred in the first place.

“Example is leadership.”

-Albert Schweitzer

  • Setting an Example – If you ask your team to follow standard work as part of their process, why would you not require the same of yourself? The only reasons I can come up with are it’s either not really effective (which is frustrating-why would you make me do something that wastes time?) or you’re somehow “above” needing standard work as a manager. I think a lot of leaders truly believe this second reason, and my favorite response is to reference astronauts and surgeons. Both of these professions require a great deal of standard work-is your work truly “above” rocket science or brain surgery? In my experience, your team will respond extremely well to your encouragement of standard work if they see you using it alongside them.
  • Stronger Teams – Directly related to the benefit above, managers who use Leader Standard teamworkWork to manage their daily schedule will notice something as they interact with their team. People will begin to see your visits as a positive, anticipated part of their day instead of assuming something is wrong. Ask questions and demonstrate your respect for their knowledge of the process and their value as a part of the team, and you will see a major shift in how they react to your presence. I’m convinced that this type of interaction is most successful when you make the effort and engage the team on a regular, frequent basis.

Leader Standard Work can be very beneficial for your people and processes, and is a crucial component for your success as a Lean manager. So get out there and start using it today!

The Lean Office is a software tool designed to help Lean organizations who have moved beyond tools and events, and are implementing their own Lean Management System, including a module dedicated to helping Lean managers manage their Leader Standard Work. Click here to find out more!


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