Curious Cat Management Improvement Dictionary: Standardization

Standardization - the process of making a proven practice the default practice in the organization.
Standardization aids in several ways. First, by documenting the best practices and then ensuring those methods are practiced by everyone the organization promotes effective and efficient methods. Second, variation is reduced. Third, when problems present themselves the problem solving process is greatly aided - when there is no standardization it is more difficult to troubleshoot.
A slightly different type of standardization also has great benefits. By standardizing parts a company can improve performance. For example, Southwest Airlines only used one model of plane. This way they could train mechanics on only one plane and they could work on every plane the company used. They also only needed to stock parts for one type of plane. The savings proved to be enormous.

Toyota is a great example of a company that has taken advantage of standardization. They document extensively the best method. Another advantage of this is to reduce the problem common with learning "on the job." Without a standardized documented practice to recelebrate a person will naturally drift in the way they do a task. If they then train someone else they pass on a slightly modified process. In addition, a person will forget important point if there is no guide to remind them.
Some may worry that this stifles innovation. There is no reason for standardization to do so. An organization that uses standardization will just document innovation and share the successful innovations with everyone.

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