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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Standard work is the best way that is currently know to do the work

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Thursday, May 31, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Standard work is the best way that is currently know to do the work.  As
decided by the people who do the work.  To get the best possible
standards, the people doing the work might have involved customers and
suppliers of their work to better understand what is needed.   The
standard will evolve over time as the work content changes, the
understanding of waste improves, and the supplier and customer needs
change.   The real question I think is “why have a standard?”  And as the
question implies, the purpose of the standard is achieve repeatable
results irrespective of who does the work which improves downstream
quality and results.  Additionally, with the work done a standard way, it
is easier to evaluate if the improvements (or I call them experiments)
yield reduction in waste.

At a practical example, a collections department developed standard
scripts to address the top reasons a customer calls for information.  A
cross functional team developed seven scripts (using a pull/kanban
process, no less!)  They also developed a sustainment tool for feedback,
which was a daily survey.  The 30 users were trained to use the 7 scripts.
They filled out a daily personal survey on if they were able to
effectively use the script, and if it improved the situation. (A process
metric)  After 2 weeks, the results were reviewed, improvements to the
initial 7 scripts implemented, and 12 additional scripts were launched
based on the positive results of the initial pilot.  The number of calls
(outcome metric) continues to be monitored to see if this experiment in
standard work (the scripts) is improving customer experience.

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