Standard Work is the Cornerstone of the System

Everything seems simple when you tour a world class organization.  People’s movement, parts placement, tool locations and inventory levels all look as though they are in natural order. It is hard not to believe that it was always that way and  that the operation you are touring is actually an easier business to run than your organization.

But often the reality is much of the natural order you see was all by design. A carefully crafted operation with specific systems managed daily by everyone in the organization.

Building that kind of natural order starts with a cornerstone to support the structure.  For operational excellence that cornerstone is Standardized Work.

Creating Standardized Work is a process that clearly analyzes and documents the Content, Sequence, Timing, Locationand Expected Outcome of a task.

Work Content

Standardized work begins with the exact work content to complete the task.  Each step is documented with the necessary actions, safety requirements, and quality criteria.  The steps are written with enough detail that someone who was with a coach could understand and execute them.   They are detailed as reminders, and able to be used to audit the work, not as full blown instructions.


The work content is then placed in a pre-specified order.  This is the current best sequence of the work. There will inevitably be different ways to sequence the work and some better than others, but Standardized Work requires one way be chosen. It can always and should always be improved, but must start somewhere.


“Time is the shadow of motion” is an observation usually attributed to Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, pioneers of modern industrial engineering.  If you want to save time you will need to affect motion.  Standardized work is also designed to identify problems and help the organization react and restore flow by adding resources or taking action.  Time allows those problems to be obvious.


Location is what brings the sense of natural order to a world class organization. It is the often overlooked step that asks where best is this work completed within the workspace.  OR where best should this part or tool be available when needed.  And finally where should the final product be placed to allow for the next process to take.  When clearly defined it creates a sense as though it just naturally belonged there.

Expected Outcome

And finally, standardize work defines the expected outcome. What is the process designed to produce.? A defect free part, on-demand at with the specific attributes ordered produced at the lowest cost.

Help your organization build an operation that seems simple to run with a sense of everything in natural order.  Start by laying the cornerstone.

Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

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