Leader standard work is one of the elements in a lean management system. In his book Creating a Lean Culture, David Mann compares leader standard work to the engine of a car. While many of us might not know a whole lot about cars, we do know that the engine is a vital part. Likewise, leader standard work is critical for an effective lean management system because it supports and demonstrates successful leadership behaviors in a continuous improvement environment.
The purpose of leader standard work is to help reduce variation and improve performance, develop direct reports, model the way, and support your teams. It defines what the leader should be doing, when the leader should be doing it, and how the leader should be doing it.
It is common for leaders to struggle at first when determining what their standard work should look like. We recommend you start by asking yourself these four questions:
- What is the purpose of my job? Thinking this through will allow you to keep your focus on what is important.
- What are the key goals and objectives? Your leader standard work should support and help you achieve these goals and objectives.
- What do I do every day to achieve these goals and objectives? Laying this information out will help you prioritize and dedicate your time in the best way.
- Who do I need to cooperate with to achieve my objectives? Think about who you need to cooperate with and what the best way is to connect with them.
After you have spent some time thinking through these questions you should have a better idea of where to spend your time. Based on that you can consider the activities that you should be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly basis. Find a way to make those activities visual and determine how you will hold yourself accountable to do them.
Remember that sticking to your leader standard work takes discipline and tenacity.
We would love to hear about your experiences in creating and using leader standard work. Please share in the comments section below.
Lead with Purpose Using Leader Standard Work virtual workshop
Creating a Lean Management System Workshop
Beyond Heroes By Kim Barnas