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Developing a plan for your leader standard work can sometimes feel redundant, as can carrying out the leader standard work tasks themselves. Executing the same plan repeatedly day in and day out can be time-consuming. This repetition, however, is what builds the solid foundation of great processes and provides valuable data that can be used in driving improvements and defining new standards.
What Is Leader Standard Work?
To help make sure we're all on the same page, let me share a condensed definition of "leader standard work." We're all familiar with (regular) standard work. Much like the intent behind the standard work we ask shop floor associates to perform, leaders have to establish and conduct leader standard work. Some details will be common and apply across the board to leaders in general. However, to be the most effective leader you can be, some items should be unique to you alone. Just as not all leaders share the same strengths, not all leaders share opportunities for improvement in the same areas.
Keep in mind that your leader standard work will continue to evolve. The important thing is that there's a list of behaviors and actions to be taken daily. As time goes on, you should continuously reflect on what you've done, what you're doing, and what you still need to do. Don't let your leader standard work become your get-out-of-jail-free card.
The Purpose of Leader Standard Work
We perform leader standard work for many reasons. The tasks that make up leader standard work can originate from many sources. We can perform tasks in reaction to an unacceptable practice, condition, or situation that occurred in the past. To address the unacceptable event, we add new requirements to our leader standard work. We also use leader standard work tasks to grasp the current conditions of multiple scenarios and identify critical tasks.
Are you completing leader standard work with a goal in mind, or are you gathering data just to put a checkmark in a box with a semi-clear conscience? The value and culture changes that can come from executing really great leader standard work can be priceless. The execution of your leader standard work requires ongoing commitment. It's not meant to be a one-time event. The repetition will build and foster the foundation for a culture of continuous improvement.
Modern Digital Leader Standard Work
Over the years, I've observed many examples of great leader standard work being performed, and it's remarkable how good and how innovative leaders can be in creating and executing it. The greatest examples of highly effective leader standard work not only capitalize on the execution of the work itself but also utilize the information and responses gleaned to further define new standards and reaction plans. Most of these effective solutions have been electronic and digital. The power that comes from a modern digital version of leader standard work can be huge.
Here are some of the most significant advantages I've observed using a modern digital leader standard work template:
Leadership can observe the tasks and responses of seemingly endless numbers of completed standard work checklists. Time destroys evidence and dulls the memory. Having the ability to analyze these responses compiled over a large time frame produces more reliable data. The impact of outliers is systematically reduced if not eliminated altogether.
Time stamps and electronic signatures provide objective evidence of when and by whom tasks are performed and completed, thus significantly bolstering traceability.
Large amounts of data compiled over longer periods of time more clearly and objectively identify anomalies.
This quantity of data can be charted and Pareto'd to reflect variable and attribute data.
You need to trend chart responses to compare data over given time periods. Compare day to day, week to week, shift to shift, or even year to year.
Utilize statistical process control (SPC) to understand variable data responses.
Use the data gathered over time to perform analysis of means: If a point falls outside the defined limits, then you have objective evidence that the factor level mean, or average, represented by that outlying data point is just that, an outlier.
Define and document specific reaction plans and follow-up actions to unexpected or anomaly responses. In other words, form a controlled defined reaction plan.
Create an automated escalation process and procedures.
Don't just complete the task. Use the data!
We must use the data and responses we acquire from performing leader standard work. Simply completing the checklist of standard work isn't an end in itself; it's part of the process. You have taken the time to complete your leader standard work. Now it's time to refine and hone this tool. Use the historical data and empirical facts to your advantage.
LES and Leader Standard Work
As businesses continue to eliminate paper throughout their organizations, traditional hand-written leader standard work has given way more and more to digital leader standard work. Digitized leader standard work lends itself to quickly compiling and analyzing data, allowing leaders to focus on the most critical needs and opportunities to improve. This is where L2L's LES (Lean Execution System) is your best friend. All tools are immediately available at the touch of a finger, everywhere, all the time.
Many of the best examples of effectively executed leader standard work I have observed have resulted in key initiatives being realized and goals being achieved:
Error proofing and poka-yoke (mistake proofing a process to eliminate possibilities for human error)
Identify the specific tasks to be performed
Understand the value of each question and response
Identify normal vs. abnormal
Define a systematic method of follow-up to anomalies
Think of this as the shampooing part of your long-term deep cleansing ritual. L2L puts all your leader standard work in one place. The data is compiled and trends revealed. Let the improvements begin!
See how digitizing your leader standard work will simplify your job.