Principle 6: How Standardisation Can Grow Your Creativity | Principles of Lean

Standardisation of Eggs in Tray

“Standardise what you do to create the space you need to change what you do.”

If you and your team are firefighting at work, the chances are that you have some great people, but you do not have standard processes. Only when you have well good, well-trained people and standardised processes can you get anywhere near good performance.

The fallacy around the idea of standardisation is that it removes the “creativity” from the team. But in fact, it’s the opposite. By having a standard process, just like driving along the road, you and your team are now free to use your capability and creativity, to solve more significant problems: you now have space in your head actually to think. 

Imagine when you are driving. Do you think about the trees on the side of the road? Or which side to of the road to drive your car? Or are you tuned in to the radio or perhaps an audiobook or possibly visualising an important meeting.

Standards create space for creativity.

In reality, it looks like this:

If ten people do the same activity differently, then any improvement is potentially valid for just one of those people. However, if ten people do the same process in the same way, then any change will give 10x the results.

Imagine a change that saves 1 hour a week. That’s 52 hours a year. What about if we could be replicate this across ten people – then we are talking 520 hours. What about across a team of one hundred people, well we are at 5200 hours. Now we are talking compound returns.

Standardisation is not the death of creativity; its the foundation. It allows for your intellectual capital to be focused on more exciting and better things.

Standardisation gives the space that allows creativity to begin to flourish.

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