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How to write understandable work instructions

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work instructions (wi)
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  Post Number #1  
Old 29th October 2008, 04:00 PM
Sharon_Noble's Avatar
Sharon_Noble

 
 
Total Posts: 79
I Say... How to write understandable work instructions

Is there some kind of tutorial or standard out there that I can give our employees who create work instructions? Some of them seem to think that they are writing process instructions for engineers instead of production associates. I have come across some pretty bad work instructions, especially when auditing the shop floor. I have heard that the work instructions should never be written above a grade 6 reading comprehension level is this accurate? Not that the production employees are illiterate, just that for some, English is not their first language, and all our instruction are in English with pictures for clarifications.
I would appreciate any help on this as I seem to be fighting a losing battle when I write up an NC that a work instruction isn't "Legible" and I get...."Sure its legible I can read it!"
thanks

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  Post Number #2  
Old 29th October 2008, 04:19 PM
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Jim Wynne

 
 
Total Posts: 14,077
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

Quote:
In Reply to Parent Post by Sharon_Noble View Post

Is there some kind of tutorial or standard out there that I can give our employees who create work instructions? Some of them seem to think that they are writing process instructions for engineers instead of production associates. I have come across some pretty bad work instructions, especially when auditing the shop floor. I have heard that the work instructions should never be written above a grade 6 reading comprehension level is this accurate? Not that the production employees are illiterate, just that for some, English is not their first language, and all our instruction are in English with pictures for clarifications.
I would appreciate any help on this as I seem to be fighting a losing battle when I write up an NC that a work instruction isn't "Legible" and I get...."Sure its legible I can read it!"
thanks
"Legible" and "understandable" are two different things. Something that's incomprehensible may be legibly written. As far as writing skills are concerned, the writing of work instructions (and other documentation) is best left in the hands of someone who knows how to do it. Perhaps you have a few people in your company who can take the raw (and poorly-written) material and rewrite it.
Thank You to Jim Wynne for your informative Post and/or Attachment!
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  Post Number #3  
Old 29th October 2008, 04:34 PM
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Tom W

 
 
Total Posts: 415
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

It took me a long time to figure out that I can write the best work instructions, the most articulate, clearly phrased and comprehensive writing and no one might understand it...

When writing a work instruction you want to make sure you take your target audience into account. Ask for input and listen to that input. It still needs to be professional and understandable but it can also include flowcharts, diagrams, pictures, and other information that make it simple yet effective.

It's a good idea to start with asking the operators on the floor to create one originally then take that and improve on it; through formating, cleaning up the text and wording, intergrating pictures or flow diagrams where it makes sense. It's a skill to communicate effectively with the spoken word; the same goes with the written word.
Thank You to Tom W for your informative Post and/or Attachment!
  Post Number #4  
Old 29th October 2008, 04:46 PM
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ScottK

 
 
Total Posts: 2,529
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

I'm sure you'll get a lot of good advice in this thread.
My first advice is to do a search through the forum for, say, "work instruction" or "work instruction template" or some such.
Then look through the post attachment list (the link is up at the top between the lighthouse and lightning bolt)

Personally - I like visual instructions - diagrams, photos, and flow charts.
  Post Number #5  
Old 29th October 2008, 04:49 PM
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bobdoering

 
 
Total Posts: 3,946
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

Another good practice is to have them write a work instruction, give it to an associate not familiar with the area (target audience) and watch them try to decipher what you wrote.

Perfect practice makes perfect...
  Post Number #6  
Old 29th October 2008, 05:00 PM
Sharon_Noble's Avatar
Sharon_Noble

 
 
Total Posts: 79
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

Jim
I agree that legible and understandable are two different things. My issue is if a production associate cannot read the work instruction because they don't understand the meaning of the words used, or the sentance structure leaves the intent of the instruction unclear, it might as well be covered in coffee stains, ripped, and partially burned.....
I have asked that the production workers have some input into the creation of work instructions but for some reason our "Pretengineers" who create these instructions feel that "hourly employees" are incapable of this task and it takes someone on "salary" to do this.
  Post Number #7  
Old 29th October 2008, 05:05 PM
Sharon_Noble's Avatar
Sharon_Noble

 
 
Total Posts: 79
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

Here is an example of what I found...
1) "Ensure that the terminal is perpendicular to the PC board"
There were no pictures to clarify this statement so I asked 5 employees on the line what the word perpendicular meant. Only 2 out of the 5 knew what it meant. I consider that work instruction inadequate.
How do I get the person creating the instruction to understand their audiance when they refuse to actually talk to them?????
  Post Number #8  
Old 29th October 2008, 05:11 PM
ScottK's Avatar
ScottK

 
 
Total Posts: 2,529
Re: How to write understandable work instructions

Quote:
In Reply to Parent Post by Sharon_Noble View Post

Here is an example of what I found...
1) "Ensure that the terminal is perpendicular to the PC board"
There were no pictures to clarify this statement so I asked 5 employees on the line what the word perpendicular meant. Only 2 out of the 5 knew what it meant. I consider that work instruction inadequate.
How do I get the person creating the instruction to understand their audiance when they refuse to actually talk to them?????
force the issue.

make the author form a team with users of the instruction.
Don't let it be an option.
Thanks to ScottK for your informative Post and/or Attachment!
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