Karen Marketing in her book, The Outstanding Organization discusses the need and an outline for Standard Work.

It you are going to respect your employees and, in return, get the most out of them, you need to operate with well-designed and well-managed processes developed by the people doing the work, who’ve been trained for the role and offered opportunities to reach their highest level.

Access to talent presents another employee-related reason why disciplined process management is critical. Even in industries that have a large pool of capable potential employees, there are only so many superstars out there. No matter how well you recruit, those stars will comprise only a small percentage of your total workforce. To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho: “You get better results from average people managing brilliant processes than from brilliant people managing broken processes.” This perspective isn’t a criticism of the intellect of one’s employees; it reflects the practical reality that it’s impossible to staff your organization with 100 percent star performers. So why not create a well-designed and reliable work systems that enable even average employees to perform well?

Karen Goes on to say..

Michael Gerber (author of The E-Myth Revisited) challenges business leaders to create organizations that are systems dependent versus expert dependent. Note that he’s not diminishing the value of people. Rather, he’s saying that if your processes are excessively complicated, you will need to hire brilliance every time. That’s a tall order for any business and certainly not a hallmark of outstanding organizations.

Playing on (Gerber’s perspective, ask yourself: To what degree could you quickly replicate your operation, starting from scratch with all new staff? How quickly could you bring everyone up to speed? Are your processes well documented? Does the reality of how those processes currently operate match what’s in writing? Is it clear who does what, when, how, and in what sequence? Have you eliminated all complication so that only complexity remains?

If you answered no to any one of these questions, you have some work to do. There are four steps you can take to build discipline into your major processes.

  1. Document How the Work is Currently Done
  2. Eliminate Unnecessary Complication, Waste, and Redundancy
  3. Monitor Performance
  4. Continuously Improve Process

5s: Improving Organizational Standards for Efficiency, Effectiveness and Success

5s is a systematic corrective action technique to clean up, get organized and make this the way you do business. In service organizations, the problems identified in 5S not only rob your organizations’ productivity but also your customers.

Service environments are especially prone to this waste. Often it is blamed on the lack of standardization. Every job is different. However, how much time searching is spent for misplaced files or sifting through piles of paperwork on desks? How much blame is put on computers and software because of the lack of organization and cleaning taking place? One of the measures used in Office “Kaizen” is percent accurate and complete. This is discussed in several of my podcasts with Mike Osterling and Karen Martin, experts in White-Collar Kaizen. The percent accurate and complete becomes particular important when these duties are handed off to others and to customers.

Many organizations will complete a 5s process without doing the last two steps. It is the act of Standardization that drives Sustainability. Without these components, the gains that you create in the first three will be lost. When a 5s system is implemented, it creates a visual workplace that allows for quick determination of current state. In Service, Sales and Marketing, visual indicators are often non-existent. As Dr. Gwendolyn Galsworth said in a podcast to me, “If you are not visual, you are not Lean.” At a glance, we should be able to determine failures in our service system.


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