Lean's New Buzzword: Leader Standard Work


Quite Involved in Discussions
Anyone have heard of this yet?
It is claimed to be the standard work for leaders and includes things like going to the Gemba, doing mentoring/coaching, asking relevant questions, and the like.

Personally I hate it, as it dilutes the concept of standardized work (or standard methods) taken from Taylor's work and is taught in methods engineering classes of Industrial Engineering.

What's your take on this?

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
It is nothing more than the codification of what Toyota leaders do every day. we in the united states had to give it a name...

Why do you 'hate it'? Toyota uses it reinforce standard work and to enable continual improvement at all levels of the organization - how can that be 'hate' worthy?


Quite Involved in Discussions
It's not the content/concept that I hate, but the way it is being packaged and sold. It looks to me that it is a part of core leadership and management tasks but were scoped down and put inside box, then sold as something "new" or "the missing link" to the Lean revolution.

I'm sure somewhere down the road I will again encounter some people and some executives who will declare their "expertise" in Lean and brag or demand about the need for "Leader Standard Work". Like how in the past people demand about the need to Total Quality Management or or Business Process Improvement.

Well my point is as far as my limited experience goes, using big words rarely aid in clarifying what needs to be done and usually just adds to the confusion at the execution level. And office politicians love big words. It sounds so intelligent and obvious few asks for details.

And then there is the question of, "Can leadership really be standardized?".

I just realized "hate" must be a really strong word to use. Sorry but must be cultural thing for me to use it. A more accurate word should be "distaste".
Last edited:

Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
In my experience many more companies brag about their embrace of lean than actually practice lean. So I am sure some will start using the this term as a substitute for leadership substance as they do so many other terms.

It's always much easier to say something than to do something. I have to laugh ruefully at my own company's use of so many lean terms, and how they brag to customers about their lean embrace, when what they are doing in reality behind the scenes is definitely not lean and definitely not helpful.

For example, leaders who "go to the gemba" only when they want to yell at or interrogate someone. Employees quickly learned to hide or flee when a "gemba walk" was going to take place. :nope:

Top Bottom