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 Why most Operators resist the concept?

Standard Work: Why most Operators resist the concept?


Enterprise Excellence Advisor & Shingo Facilitator

Standard work is always confused with Work Standard.  Standard work represents a great opportunity to define, document, share best practices for any process across the entire value stream. Whereas work standard is used to define work method in order to determine cost standards and to ensure that each employee is 100% utilized. In this case employee view work standard as a measure of how hard they have to work more in order to meet the management defined standard.

The basic objectives of creating standard work for any process are:

  1. safety

  2. Simplicity

  3. Quality

  4. Efficiency

  5. Repeatability and

  6. Eliminate operator to operator variations!

Based on the above objectives we can define standard work as: “The safest, easiest, efficient and effective method we currently apply (known only is not enough) to complete a process step”.

Below are some of the challenges I came across during my standard work implementation (During my Lean transformation programs) across more than 30 counties in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Central America and North America.

  1. In any organization that does not have an established standard work; the hardest task is to establish the first draft of the standard work. Why it is hard? Well! Operator would say for example: Are you telling me that I don’t know how to do my Job that I have been doing for the last 20 years, for example? The answer is absolutely no! We are here to put structure around your work and also identify the best techniques that different people apply for different steps in the process and also leverage the knowledge that spread among the same shift and across the different shift.

  2. Another reason for resistance is operator perception about standard work; they think that they need to work harder in order to deliver the productivity improvement that normally comes with defining and implementing standard work. Furthermore, they would claim that this might impact the product quality!

  3. Another interesting reason is that different people have different capabilities and strengths for example right hand person vs left handed person and the answer her is what is the normal situation?

  4. Also some operators want to keep the knowledge and the experience they gathered during the past number of years to themselves so that organization find it hard to replace them! In this case operator limited their growth opportunity inside the organization and as time goes by they start to complain about doing the same job for the last number of years and they are not progressing in the organization!

  5. Lack of communication about what is in it for me for having a standard work?

  6. The way Standard work is developed. Normally it is developed by engineers or supervisors and Operators are instructed to follows it without being part of the development process where they can have a significant contribution and hence it become their standard work!

  7. Lack of understanding that standard work is the basis for continuous improvement

  8. Lack of understanding that Standard work allow us to create a balanced distribution of work based on both time and efforts not only on time as in most cases

  9. Standard work allows us to quickly define bottlenecks on the production lines

  10. Standard work is a key enablers for higher quality products and  Zero-Inventory production


Hope that was helpful and please let me knows if you have any comments or feedback.

Best Regards.


Dr.Hakeem Hammad

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