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Standardizing Work is Standardizing Improvement

Standard work is not just about following a set of steps and a hard-nosed manager holding his people accountable to those steps. It’s not about enforcing absolute compliance to those sequence of steps.


Taiichi Ohno was a believer in Standard Work. After reflecting on his own experience, he concluded the following which led to the current approach at Toyota on Standard Work:


“No matter how great the principles behind a manual are, it has no value if it cannot be applied in practice. We’re not living in an ivory tower. Work can never be standardized based only upon your ideas and demands without validating facts on the shop floor. Focus on one problem at a time and try to accomplish continuous improvement no matter how small it may be. This is how you can collect useful clues as to what standard work should be”.


In sum,

  1. The reality of the shop floor is clearly reflected in the standard work

  2. Standard work must be realistic and applicable on the shop floor

  3. Standard work must lead to continuous improvement opportunities

  4. Standard work is not absolute, don’t aim for perfection, create a lenient standard work to begin with.

“When there is no standard, there is no Kaizen”

Taiichi Ohno

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