Processes are designed, developed, managed, and improved to provide value to a customer who may be external or internal. To provide this value, standard work is developed based on the best-known practice shared by the team members which ensures the best safety, quality, delivery, use of resources, and easiest to learn. At that point, standard work should be considered as a hypothesis that is continuously tested and verified.
The execution of a standard work is a Plan-Do-Check-Act (or PDSA) cycle built with a set of planned activities to achieve an expected outcome. Since we cannot know for sure if the hypothesis is going to be validated, problems need to be anticipated. The management of problems requires to be built into the management system. We also know that every process can be improved. Our improvement system which should also be supported by the management system should provide the conditions to identify opportunities to improve the process toward even better safety, quality, delivery, use of resources, and facility to learn.
The graphic provided depicts three different flows:
1. The creation of value (using standards)
2. The correction of problems (going back to standard)
3. The experimentation of ideas (improving the standard)
In a well-designed process, team members are engaged and supported to follow standard work, solve the problems they encounter during the day, and improve the standards to achieve better results.
Executives who believe in this framework should reflect on how well:
• Leaders provide team members with work that is highly specified as to the content, sequence, timing, location, and expected outcomes
• Team members adhere to the standards communicated, taught, and supported by leaders.
• Team members identify problems in real-time. They elevate them for containment and problem-solving
• Team members conduct experiments under the guidance, support, and coaching of the leaders to gradually achieve the cascaded improvement goals
• Standards are improved to avoid problem recurrence or to achieve the targeted improvement goals