One Man’s Lean Journey: Driving Employee Engagment Through Standardized Work Creation

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the importance of employee involvement in creating improvement within an organization. Working for the automotive supplier to create standard work instructions was time in my learning.

I have an industrial engineering degree. I had been certified in Ready-Work Factor and MTM motion-time analysis tools. I was taught how to analyze every slight movement a person makes and how to determine the amount of time it should take. I was the snot-nosed, arrogant, young engineer telling employees how to do their work quicker. I can count on one hand how many of the work instructions I wrote were actually followed for more than one day.

At the automotive supplier, my manager and I took a different approach. When going to an area to document the work standards, we pulled several people off the floor across all shifts to help. The teamwork between everyone was fantastic and my eyes were opened in three ways: (1) How common it was for a job not to be done the same way by multiple people, (2) the incredible dialog created to combine ideas and determine a better process, and (3) how the new work process was being followed by everyone weeks and months later.

Lean implementers will talk non-stop about the importance of employee engagement in everything that is done. There is good reason for this. Every problem has a countermeasure. Those countermeasures mean a work process WILL BE changed. It may be for one person or many. It may be a small, simple change or it may be a large, complex change. But there will be a change to the standardized work.

Getting people involved early helps to expedite adoption of the new process and helps to ensure adherence.


  • Working with employees to create standardized work is critical to creating adoption and adherence to the new process
  • It is extremely common that no one does the same job, the same way and standardized work is needed
  • Standardized work is the foundation of improvement because it provides a baseline AND it DRIVES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT.

Posted on February 16, 2015, in Culture, Engagment, One Man's Lean Journey, Standardized Work and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Matt

    Getting the people involved in designing standard work instructions, is not only effective at creating the best set of instructions, it is also a sign of respect for the people involved. It also forces everyone to consider how to optimize the instructions for the benefit of all and not just one person. Also when people have had a fair say in the process, they have no reason not to follow what they helped create, their involvement pretty much guarantees their buy in to the end result. And if they have assumed ownership of the result they will use it.

    I have had to work with people that went from short to extra tall, and getting one set of instructions to work for all takes making sure you consider the how each step will affect each type of worker. It goes much better and much faster when they are all there together to test each idea.

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