Yesterday was a great day. Not only did I get a chance to host a webinar with two of my favorite people in the world, which Ted described in the last post, but I also got a chance to visit the Model Line area to see their progress since I had transitioned out. As I walked the floor of the Model Line stopping to talk with all the folks I had worked so hard with over the last year I was energized. It made all of the hard and stressful days worth while. It really has become a different culture and the progress is so impressive. The knowledge had deepened so quickly across all of the teams.
Standing in the gemba I replayed in my head many of the questions asked by the audience during the webinar. Everyone in the audience worked in the healthcare industry and many of whom are just getting started or interested in Lean. During the webinar I described the strategy behind the Model Line and I spent a lot of time talking about our focus on standard work to build a stable foundation. When we began the process we knew it was important, but I don’t think we grasped just how important. For several years we had been applying Lean tools and principles through rapid improvement events, but we had never been able to integrate them into our management system. Nor had we figured out how to integrate Lean thinking and behaviors into our daily work.
With the focus on standardizing all processes, including the process of management in the Model Line we had unlocked a powerful force. If applied correctly standard work gives teams the foundation for innovation and improvement. It makes visible the opportunities and it quickly separates facts from ideas. It breaks down barriers between teams by encouraging sharing. It provides a common language and method for improvement. And finally, it allows you to apply all of the other Lean tools and principles in a way that can be measured, sustained and the effect understood.
So to all of you that listened to the webinar and are now here reading this post the best advice I can give you is to focus your Lean efforts early on in implementing standard work. Study the TWI methodology and read about the Daily Management system in the Total Quality Management literature. You don’t need to worry about all of the other Lean tools to start with, those can come later. Invest in putting the stable foundation in first.
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