There are a number of tools for creating the standard work. Each is important and useful in its own way; some are better suited for manufacturing, others for knowledge work. One of the most powerful, because of its simplicity and clarity, is the Job Breakdown worksheet.
Certainly, documenting the way we do our work is not new. But our traditional methods often fall short:
- Training materials may read like tax code; complicated, hard to use, too wordy, complex
- We often miss the opportunity to communicate key tips
- We forget to state why steps are important
As a result, our employees find it difficult to follow the documented way, because we fail to communicate the importance or we make the information unapproachable.
A Job Breakdown Sheet is a straightforward way to document standard work. It outlines the things that are important for people to remember in order to do work the agreed-upon best way, as well as the key points for how the steps should be done and the reasons why. It must be succinct, so it’s easy to teach and easy to remember. In a recent Lean event, King County District Court created Job Breakdowns for many of the key activities in the infractions process like the one below for scanning (see below).
To fully understand the powerful impact that standard work can have on an organization, it is critical to understand the historical context in which it was born. The entrance of the United States into World War II placed unprecedented demands on the country’s manufacturing industries. At the same time, quality standards were growing more and more demanding and much of the skilled workforce was overseas fighting the war. In response to these challenges, the War Manpower Commission created the Training Within Industry (TWI) program.
TWI focused, primarily, on the following elements:
- Documenting the best way to do the job – called the “job method”
- Implementing a formalized training approach – called “job instruction”
- Adhering to the job method until a better method is developed
- Striving to improve upon the existing job method, using PDCA
The results were stunning. Across 16,500 plants, production output increased by 86% and scrap loss was reduced by 55%. So what happened to TWI’s standard work approach? It was all but abandoned in the U.S. in the post-war economic boom, but war-ravaged Japan latched onto it and other concepts that would later become the foundation of Lean.
We might not have a war that is motivating us to standard work, but we can still benefit from understanding what worked in the past. We continue to face declining revenues and increasing demands for quality services. Returning to standard work is becoming more of a necessity again, and it is the foundation for continuous improvement.
King County District Court Job Breakdown for Scanning
Advances the work
Tips about steps that:
. . . for key points
|Sign Affidavit||Required by policy|
|Log into scanner||
|Open new batch||
|Final quality check||
|Complete index fields||
|Close Batch / Repeat or Log off, as applicable|