Leader Standard Work Definition, Example, Template, and Advice

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Leader Standard Work is a critical step in ensuring that the Lean Culture in your organization prospers. But, Leader Standard Work is dependent on a few things. In what follows, I’ll cover a few of those items and provide an example of Leader Standard Work. For a primer on the importance of Standard Work, check out the Standard Pig Game, an interactive game that teaches the importance of Standardized Work.

Leader Standard Work is meant to accomplish the following:

  • Clear expectations for leading lean
  • Focused on behavior
  • What you want leaders to do
  • “Do” first, “know” second -if have to choose
  • What you can see leaders doing -or not!
  • More coachable, teachable
  • More readily changed
  • Improved odds for successful transition

David Mann, a respected author who has written about how to effectively create a Lean Culture in your organization believes that a Lean Culture is dependent on 3 things:

  1. Leader Standard Work
  2. Visual Management
  3. Daily Accountability

leader standard work sheet

Leader Standard Work

Leader Standard Work is, seemingly, redundant. But that’s part of its beauty. Because it is the same exercise, it also creates a robustness to our processes that unlike anything else can accomplish.

For different leaders in the organization, the typical breakdown of standard work might be in the following:

  • Team Leader Standard Work
  • Supervisor Leader Standard Work

Team Leader Standard Work

Team Leader standard work accounts for approximately 80% of Team Leader’s time

Once a Day Items

  • Lead team startup meeting
  • Review, adjust labor plan
  • Monitor production start up
  • Post tracking sheets
  • Attend dept ‘board’ meeting
  • Complete improvement task assignments
  • Work on improvement
  • Set next day labor plan
  • Update Pareto charts

Multiple Times a Day

  • Observe std work each station
  • Update performance tracking each pitch
  • Monitor start, stop times
  • Train operators as needed

Supervisor Leader Standard Work

Supervisor standard work accounts for approximately 50% of supervisors’ time

Once a Day Items

  • Meet w/ opposite shift
  • Monitor production startup
  • Lead dept ‘board’ meeting w/ team leaders
  • Attend VS “board’ meeting
  • Complete improvement task assignments
  • Gemba walk a team leader
  • In-depth monitor standard work one work station
  • Opposite shift/next day plan

Multiple Times a Day Items

  • Department walkthrough
  • Review, initial tracking charts; action as needed
  • Monitor start, stop times
  • Monitor team leader standard work

Visual Management

Following Leader Standard Work, during your walk in the Gemba, will likely lead you to the Visual Controls. When there, look for:

  • Production tracking charts, operator daily maintenance boards, 5-S daily task boards, between-process control boards, equipment calibration signoffs, etc.
  • Visuals show expected versus actual
  • Leader’s job at the visual:
    • Verify tracking or execution
    • Ensure “misses/fallouts” are clearly documented
    • Ensure appropriate response to variances
    • Visuals convert “energy” of leader std work into process focus –structured, documented
    • Expected versus actual, reasons for variation
    • Expected versus actual, executed or not
    • Skipped, late, partial
    • Documented process data gives “traction” leaders can use to drive improvement

Daily Accountability

A daily accountability process:

  • Leader scrutinizes visuals’ data daily Determines what steps to take by whom
  • Assigns resources, sets due dates
  • Follows up
    • Daily, tiered stand-up meetings
    • Brief, on the floor
    • Visual accountability

Looking at the above and the relationship between Leader Standard Work, Visual Controls, and Daily Accountability, shows a clear difference between what is known as “Management by Walking Around” versus “Gemba Walk”. This approach clearly shows respect for people, is standardized, is repeatable, and can help the organization scale.


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