Lean Kool-Aid Person

How did I become the equivalent of the Lean Kool-Aid person?

I wanted to make complex processes easier for my team and for my customers, while respecting the people involved. My lean journey started with the help of some pretty amazing Lean folks over at the Denver Health Lean Academy who reminded me over and over not to solution jump, but rather to begin with developing Standard Work for processes. Why? Developing standardized work created a baseline to serve as the foundation for process improvement.

In order to improve a process, we needed to document it, standardize it, so we can measure and evaluate the current process. (You might sometimes hear Standard Work referred to as "work instructions". But, ewww. That term is just terrible and boring.)


What is standard work, you ask? It's a detailed definition of the current best practice for performing a process (step-by-step documentation of the process as it exists today). Standard work can look like  guideline with screenshots, a checklist, or even a hand copied little yellow sticky note. 


Further, what is a process? My, you have a lot of questions. A process is more or less, a systematic series of actions directed to some end. 


A research administration example: Setting up a new account in your financial system, modifying a budget, or hiring new research staff. Each is it's own process or set of processes.

Chuck Norris example:


So creating standard work might start with answering these questions: What steps are involved? What tasks need to happen? Who are the other players, key stakeholders? Should you invite Chuck Norris? Where are the hand-offs that involve others? All of the steps should be documented.

Now, off you go. Get to work. Write some Standard Work. Document your current "best known way".