Standard work may be defined as the documented current one best way to perform a process. It is the foundation for the Plan-DoCheck-Act cycle of continuous improvement and ensures that we sustain our gains over time. Without a standard, teams have no way to know if they are backsliding. There can be no sustained improvement without adherence to standard work.
Agencies that are deploying the full Arizona Management System have been asked to use the following minimum core standards that the Government Transformation Office developed to guide them in creating their own standard work for creating standard work.
Step 1: Identify the core processes that require standard work. A team’s core processes are defined as the work that consumes most of their time and are most critical to a team’s customers.
Developing standard work takes time, so consider prioritizing the order of processes for which standard work is needed. For example, you might consider the relative value of developing standard work for a team of 10 members who all use the same processes versus an individual contributor who needs his or her own standard work.
Step 2: Identify the current best known way of performing an individual task. Document the process as it exists. If different ways of doing the same work exist, the team will need to agree on the single, current best way, and the leader must communicate clearly that this is now the standard for doing the work. During the first iteration of standard work, the team may need to collect best practices from several different team members. This approach is vital to move teams out of an environment in which everyone does it their own.
Step 3: Document the standard work using the most simple and efficient method. For example, job breakdown sheets, checklists and process maps are all acceptable methods depending on the situation. Find your own best way
Step 4: Train the team. Teams that aren’t trained to follow standard work often won’t.
Step 5: Leaders must confirm that team members can adhere to the standard work by going to where the work is done (Gemba) and observing members’ behavior. Absent such checks, processes tend to drift. If teams cannot adhere to the standard work, they will need to figure out why and implement counter measures to get back on track. This practice represents ongoing maintenance of work processes using the Arizona Management System.
Step 6: Improve standard work over time. Standard work is never “done;” it is only the current one best way. New best practices must find their way in the team’s documented standard work. Documentation of standard work should include the date of creation/ revision, and if the date of last revision is significantly in the past, the team should be purposeful in updating it.