When Standards go Wrong

Standards are designed to identify problems. They establish the expectation and let organizations know when there is a problem and the expectation cannot be met.  But when a problem is identified it has to be addressed or knowing can do more damage than good.

Standards are designed to identify problems

World class organizations create standards for people, equipment, processes, and the work environment.  The purpose is to help the organization see when the standard cannot be met.  Maybe the standardized work cannot be completed in time, or the process does not produce the expected outcome, or the equipment is not running at rate.  All are signs of a problem when they are not at the standard.  But knowing and not doing something about it can hurt more than having the standard helps.

Knowing there is a problem can do more damage than good.

A typical standard for a work environment is a process of creating a board that holds tools needed in the area and creating an outline or shadow of the tool that shows on the board when the tool is missing.

It is a great standard for establishing what tools are need and identifies a problem if one of the tools is missing.  The world class operation will quickly see that the tool is missing and replace it before the next shift. Or at least let the team know the tool is on order and begin the problem solving process for why it was missing.

But, if the tool goes on for weeks without being replaced or even acknowledged that it is missing – far more damage is done than the good of having the board.  Basically, it can be interpreted as the organization sayin;  “We understand what tools you need, and we clearly see that you do not have what you need, but we are not going to do anything about it.”

Help your organization see when they have created a standard that is doing more harm than good.



Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

Brian Kurtyka

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