Taiichi Ohno is credited with having said:
When there is no standard, there is no Kaizen
In other words, when a process is performed unsystematically in different ways, then:
- There can be no basis for comparison (before/after)
- One cannot objectively tell if there was a difference or change
- No improvement is possible in regards to Time, Quality, Quantity, Cost, etc.
Pictorially, a standard is a wedge in this diagram:
The ball represents the process we’re trying to improve. The uphill picture represents improvement. So, at each improved process, that becomes the new standard. When the process is improved, then the standard is updated.
Where there is no standard, there is no Kaizen. This is true because variation, which invites defects and errors, continues to thrive in an environment where no standard is followed.
An important note: The concept of Positive Variance is an important but not discussed topic in Lean Manufacturing – but a well-rounded and good understanding of Standard Work requires understanding Positive Variance.
It’s Your Turn
Have you experienced an operation where no standard was followed? Did that process produce defects? How did you deal with helping others recognize the importance of standards (standard work in Lean) and then create and follow standard work?