We are now at a place as an organization where we are struggling with how we can effectively “scale” our Lean work across an enterprise of over 10,000 employees with locations across two states. As you can imagine there are all kinds of people and process challenges. One of the most interesting is how do we manage the effective “spread” of standard work across individuals, teams and locations. We have thirty specialty service lines, twenty-six clinics, ancillaries, dozens of administrative teams, etc. all either already standardizing their processes or about to start. Many of these teams are focused on delivering to the same set of customer requirements, but do not currently have the same baseline that they are staring from. For example, everyone of our clinics has a different work environment (some very big and some very small), different staffing ratios and different processes. Its hard enough deploying standard work in one location, but daunting to think about trying to spread it across twenty-six!
Over the last six months my thinking has greatly evolved. I now believe that it is less important for every one of our work teams to have shared standard work for all their processes. To try and drive that level of consistency across work teams would not only take an incredible amount of resources, but also create an enviornment that would be ridgid, slow to improve and take creativity away from the people doing the work. Instead, every team needs to be focused and held accountable to developing their own standard work that everyone follows within the team that reliabily meets the standard each and every time the work is completed. In other words, all teams must meet the standard, but they don’t all have to have the same processes in place to meet that standard. There may still be certain processes that in order to meet customer requirements need to be performed consistently across teams, but most processes are invisible to customers and will not meet this requirement.
By taking this approach the organization can focus its time in more effective ways. Rather then spending a huge amount of resources and time trying to maintain standard work across teams the organization can instead focus on developing systems that make performance transparent and developing incentive systems that encourage teams to share their work. If done right, low performing teams for any process should be incentivized to learn from high performing teams and possibly adopt their standard work. Conversely, high performing teams should always be looking to find low performing teams that they can lend a helping hand in support.
I am wondering if others have thoughts on this approach?
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