Why Standard Work Works ANYWHERE

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Video Highlights:

00:30 The common mistake about Standard Work
01:30 The two things you can get out of this video
02:00 Applying standard work to a race
02:30 Racing standard work 1
03:30 Racing standard work 2
04:20 Racing standard work 3
05:18 All Success Can Be Modeled

I’m always amazed at how fast people will say to me, “oh that won’t work here.” It’s not true, but I’ve heard it every single time I’ve ever talked to a company about implementing Lean Management.

The number one topic I hear it about is standard work. Standard work is pretty much a thread that has to run through all Lean Management, so it’s no small deal that someone says, “oh, we’re a different kind of operation, we’re mainly creative so trying to standardize our work just won’t.”

Without fail, I have always found it possible to implement standard work, regardless of what the operation. And since building world-class processes is based on the premise of standard work, it’s a good thing. Also, how can you possibly know your capacity in advance (needed for little things like planning the day/week/month/year, etc), without having some idea of how long it will take? Standard work takes the guessing out of that.

And as much as people want to insist they can’t possibly harness their creative work into a procedure, I’m going to prove it by taking something completely different, and showing how standard work could apply (and probably did).

In 2009 Usain Bolt broke a new world record for the 100 Meter dash in Berlin Germany, which happens to be my home town. He set the existing world record of 9.59 seconds that day. If you take a look at a video that came out about World-Record Secrets, you immediately see that the race breaks into 3 parts; the start, mid-race (or top speed reached) and the finish.

And while Wikipedia states “pacing and running tactics do not play a significant role in the 100 m, as success in the event depends more on pure athletic qualities and techniques,” the video, which used artificial intelligence to figure out different aspects of Usain’s success, shows something quite different. Watch my video analysis of the race, using a standard work frame to analyze it. I’m not saying that Usain is not a great runner with some serious talent. Just saying that his coach is a modeler who understands the modeling excellence is a way to repeat it over and over again.

Here’s the thing. All money is made through procedure. So why not build world-class procedures that anyone can do well, rather than trying to make crappy processes work using hero behaviors, done by superior beings. In the end, who do you think has the most consistency, and therefore the most longevity/endurance? Think about this – it’s no small matter.

Top that off with the idea that those same average folks are making the procedures better and better every single day, and you immediately see the performance gap it can produce. While the heroes are running around putting out fires, the Lean company is out-running them and going to home at a decent hour.

I’m very interested in your feedback, so please take a minute to let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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John Ballis
John Ballis
4 years ago

Jim, what a great job of explaining standard work. I will add this to my library and give you credit for the exclamation. Let’s talk next week about having you on my next podcast. I’ve been trying to get everybody to understand that if you do not create standard work he will never understand the level of success or failure you have. Job well done

4 years ago

Great analysis. The AI simulation was crystal clear laying down the significance of Standard Work and perfecting each step in the SW. Wonder if you have any similar simulation and analysis for Michael Phelps in swimming?

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