What is Leader Standard Work?

Leader standard work is a documented set of behaviors, actions, and tools integrated into the daily work of leaders.

The fundamental ingredient for a successful lean implementation is creating a continuous improvement culture (CI).  The active participation of leadership is required to build it.  While transitioning from traditional thinking into CI thinking, leaders will need to establish new habits.  Therefore, they need Leader Standard Work, a tool that helps leadership to do that.

Leader Standard Work and new habits

During the continuous improvement journey, everybody will learn new ways to behave, think, solve problems, communicate, and relate to others.   Therefore, leadership needs to learn and model those behaviors before coaching their teams to do the same.

Some say it takes 21 days to build a habit, while others claim it takes up to 66 days.  I don’t know the correct answer, but I know that changing a culture takes more than a couple of months of practice.  

Leader Standard Work is a documented set of behaviors, actions, and tools integrated into the daily work of leaders.  The LSW describes or lists those actions that will drive continuous improvement and Lean thinking throughout the organization.  It is focused on meaningful things like coaching and development and problem-solving.

LSW behaviors and tasks

Leader Standard Work is a proven set of best practices that help leaders on their continuous improvement journey.  The purpose is to develop team members, improve performance, and model the behaviors of the new culture.

The leader’s standard work includes the following.

  • Daily team meetings
  • Walk the area where value is created, aka Gemba Walks
  • Observe out-of-normal situations
  • Support continuous improvement activities
  • Follow-up performance vs. objectives
  • Set direction, ask, and answer questions
  • Reflection
  • Coach and develop the team
  • Participate with team members in developing standard work

Why leaders need leader standard work?

Although many can say that using a form to guide your daily activities is too restrictive and takes away the flexibility to deal with problems, it is the contrary.  Building a new way of doing business requires new habits, and the form will help.  

It will take time, but in the end, you will see the benefits of seeing things by yourself and not relying on reports with outdated information.  Leaders are more effective by keeping the focus on company goals, people development, and supporting continuous improvement.  Moreover, they will have more chances of success on their continuous improvement journey.