Let’s begin where we began, with some definitions.
Routine—a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. It comes from the word “route.” That is to say, the path to a particular destination.
For our purposes this means how we do what we do, who does it, how long it takes and how that gets communicated both inside and outside of our organizations, companywide and customer-wide.
When you have a routine, in the context of Routine Standardization you have carefully thought through all of the possibilities, addressed all the variables and provided a crystal clear path to successful execution.
Now, let’s revisit a similar but more technical word—standardization. I like the definition provided by Investopedia: “Standardization is a framework of agreements to which all relevant parties in an industry or organization must adhere to in order to ensure that all processes associated with the creation of a good or performance of a service are performed within set guidelines.”
We have concluded that RS is management’s refusal to allow their organization to struggle in indecisiveness. If management knows they are going to have to make decisions, and especially if it’s something done repetitively, they must make the decision now. You implement RS by proactively making the decision before you need to make it again.
Although the phrase “routine standardization” is strangely absent in today’s business vernacular, we have discovered that the concept is common in the business world. As we have seen, industry titans such as Apple and UPS have their uniquely consistent approach to what they do and the time it takes.
You will also recall our brief foray into the health care industry and their “Standardized Work Routines.” You may recall my timely encounter with Susan Stegall, which occurred after penning an article or two of this series. Susan is an established national consultant I stumbled upon as I persistently Googled in search of someone who shared what I believe to be essential to doing great business.
After some email interaction, a little content sharing, getting acquainted on a conference call and some back and forth, it was all too evident that businesses with regard to management and practice, though completely different, have much in common. We were definitely speaking each other’s language, though our areas of expertise are completely unrelated.
Take a second look at a quote used by permission from Stegall’s Healthcare Industry Blog: “The baseline standardized work routines should reflect the agreed upon best practices of the work group: the one best way to perform the work today.”
She continues, “However, these benefits come at a cost: They require that managers, supervisors and staff change how they work today. Everyone’s job changes when a laboratory embraces the philosophy of standardized work. Lean transformations and standardized work require discipline to develop and sustain; too many of us have our old ways of doing things to fall back on if we do not practice self-discipline.”
As we revisit this, I want to underscore some uncanny similarities with her views and RS as described throughout this series, though she refers to it as “Standardized Work Routines” in hospital training and health care consultation. Even though our businesses are completely different, we are arriving at the same conclusions.
Prior to our discussions or reading her blog, I had already eluded to such in this series. Consider these excerpts from our column. Three paragraphs that basically elaborate on the same quote.
“I know of construction companies that have developed their own unique ways of doing business through Routine Standardization. Businesses like these continually pioneer and explore. They settle when they settle, but only until it’s time to move.
In other words, when they determine a particular position on any activity, they are (for the time being) dug in. That is the way they do what they do on the whole, until they determine it’s time to change and or adjust in the interests of continual improvements.
They are simultaneously close-minded and open-minded. They stick with their decisions; nevertheless, they remain open to change. They stay in that constant dichotomy.”
Next, our columns topic shifted slightly and we moved into what I believe to be a secondary benefit to RS. We spent months on accidental discoveries. We identified a host of well-known products and practices that, as it turns out, were accidentally discovered, tempting and admonishing you to search for your own.
More recently, we finalized by describing a simple form that was developed to solve a single problem. However, once it had been implemented, it was found to be filled with accidental discoveries that ultimately transformed a construction company by becoming an exceptional communication tool rooted in and stemming from RS.
When we began this series the first article was filled with metaphors, describing it as an appetizer, but promising to follow up with a smorgasbord. For 10 consecutive months I’ve done my best to serve up the meat and potatoes and even a heaping helping of dessert.
The only question remaining is, Do you have any appetite for it?
Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is known for his original thought, innovative approach and the personal development of unique processes, systems and procedures. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.