Maybe the core question ends up being: whose role is it to improve?
The question seems too simple now:
When we say we are improving specifically the “standards”, and if by that we
mean improving standardized work and its three documents, then very often
that is done by a team as small as 2 people, the team member and his
supervisor (or many times a process engineer), who can document, do time
taking, record steps on paper, etc.
On an extended definition, I think that in most cases, when we say we are
improving standards, it is implied that there has been an improvement in the
process first, so standards will have to be adjusted accordingly. We can’t
have improvements without standards and if we do, they are not Kaizens
(continuous), they will end up being repetitive improvements. So this
leads me to believe that there is no rule to say this is an individual, a
pair, or a team effort, but it depends on how many people you really need to
make the effort on this specific improvement to take place with its adequate
adjustment of standards.
I think all team members, regardless of doing it individually or with
others, have the responsibility to improve, and if the improvement is not
including adjusting the standards, the Kaizen never took place.
Coincidently this week at the lean summit here in Poland, one multi-billion
dollar company shared that standardizing the work is not too effective for
them. Their processes are “too complex, too many people involved, too many
preferences, etc…. It is too costly to try to standardize just to
facilitate training new employees. It is better to rely on one on one show
and tell type of training.” Perhaps they missed the purpose where
standards are crucial to help them make problems visible.
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