Many companies wonder, where should I start with my continuous improvement journey? And while the answer varies for everyone, in this post from our soon to be released Just in Time Course we will answer a key question that all organizations must consider, what is the foundation for continuously improving?
Standard work is developed by people who actually do the work at the Gemba. They document the best known practices at the current time, in an effort to set up conditions that allow them to improve later on. With that being said, standard work should never be the end of the improvement process. Rather, it is a starting point of the improvement process. Taiichi Ohno said it best when he coined the phrase “where there is no standard there can be no kaizen”. This is true in the sense that only when standardization has occurred are we able to perform work the same way each time. When this occurs we are better able to see the gap in what we are doing and what we would like to be doing. With this in mind, we all need to understand that standards are never the end, rather they are living documents that should be improved upon. So, much like a high jumper reaches a specific height and then inches the bar up, we should start with a standard and then inch our bar up, again and again.
With this analogy in mind we can find the answer to the question, where should I start my continuous improvement journey from? Standardization is a good place to start. Once you have standards the possibilities are endless.
Now, let’s end with a question that you can answer in the comments section, upcoming assignments or on a piece of paper at your desk. In your current place of work, how are standards developed for processes and operations? And, how are people able to access these standards? We look forward to the discussions that may develop from these questions and we’ll see you in the next time.