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Special Series Growing Lean #7: Defining ‘standard work’

February 7, 2012  By Dale Schattenkirk

Our day is made up of many different tasks that are completed many times
by many people. Because we are human, there tends to be a lot of
variation to complete the same task.

Our day is made up of many different tasks that are completed many times by many people. Because we are human, there tends to be a lot of variation to complete the same task. Standard work is not about turning people into “robots,” but rather a way of finding the easiest and most repeatable way to achieve the desired results. The standard process should be the safest, most efficient, and most effective way to complete the task.

Delta View Farms’ “standard work” board.



Standard work is a method for defining and standardizing the sequence, timing, supplies, people, space and equipment used in a particular task.

Standard work answers:

  • Who does the work.
  • What is done.
  • When it should be done.
  • How the task should be done.
  • What to do if there is a problem.

Delta View Farms (formerly Gipaanda) has been on its Lean journey for almost a year under the guidance of Guido and Harmindur. The team wanted to free up time and reduce the number of plants that had broken trusses, disease and knife cuts. The team knew that just “telling staff” to be careful was not an effective way to ensure the quality lapses did not happen.

A quality team was put together to review the process and see what could be done to improve things. The team knew it was the process they were using that was creating the problem, not the people. As the team reviewed the process, they found that over the years, many steps had been added as a reaction to an adverse incident instead of to identify an effective intervention. The team mapped out the current state of de-leafing and all the “rules” that had accumulated over the years. The team knew they had to create a new streamlined way of de-leafing.

Organizations typically create policies and procedures in isolation from the actual process and the people doing the work on a daily basis. Procedures should be created in the workplace, and involving the people doing the work under good test methods to find the best way of doing the task. Once the new process has been developed, it can then be written into a policy. This is what Delta View did.

The team came up with a group of standard work procedures that were visual, simple and effective. The team created a three-step standard procedure process.

  • Firstly, a visual of how to do it.
  • Secondly, simple sequential steps (in two languages).
  • Thirdly, why it should be done this way and any potential negative impact.

The procedures are posted near the entrance to the greenhouse so that all staff can see them, ensuring everyone can benefit from and understand them.
Delta View has proudly announced that 2011 has been their best year ever, and attribute a good portion of that to all the great Lean work the team has completed. Guido is the first to tell you the standard work put together by the team is why they had no botrytis at all in 2011!
Very impressive results from this dedicated team.

Until next month, keep improving.

Dale Schattenkirk is president/CEO of LTS Consulting, a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, an ISO Auditor and a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP). •

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