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Routine Standardization (Part 3)

There will be very little review as we press forward, delving deeper into Routine Standardization. As always, let me encourage you to read the prior articles in this series if you haven’t already done so. It is necessary if you hope to have a full working knowledge of the concept.


It is said that Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel, having been endowed by God and gifted with wisdom, was the wisest man who ever lived. In his ancient writings in Ecclesiastes he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” He was right.


In my opening comments of part 1 of this series, I mentioned that I had Googled the phrase “Routine Standardization” and didn’t come up with a match. I eluded to the fact that perhaps you had heard of it somewhere, somehow. It seemed likely to me that others would had come to similar conclusions, pertaining to management style and technique. As for me, it remained a personal discovery, realized simply by managing my own business.


Though I all but admitted it in that first article, I can now say this with full assurance, RS isn’t new. Nor is it mine, yours or anyone else’s. It’s just a principle/concept waiting to be put to work in any industry willing to utilize it. I can prove that and will do so in the following paragraphs.


Realizing that there had to be someone, somewhere, writing or thinking about this topic, I Googled it again but rearranged terms and mixed them up a bit. After a few searches using a variation of the same words, ah-ha! There it was staring straight back at me from my monitor. Where? On a health care blog that discussed 10 benefits associated with implementation of standardized work routines.


Before I tell you the rest of the story and give credit where it’s due, let me ask a tired and nearly worn out question: Why am I not surprised Routine Standardization is not new? Why is it we contractors get up so early but are too often too late to be found leaning into the cutting edge? Why are we seemingly always playing catch-up instead of leading?


Would I be unfair to say that we fail to manage to manage? At the very least, we typically fail to manage nearly as well as we could manage if we got our &*^% together and paid enough attention to our business. We can do better. Perhaps all you need a little inspiration. Hopefully, this series is it.


Getting back to the story, after some email interaction with a consultant by the name of Susan Stegall, 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 different. Stegall, who has more than 20 years of consulting experience, is owner and CEO of M. S. Stegall & Associates, LLC, a management consulting firm that has its origins in the laboratory segment of the healthcare industry.


Take a 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.


“I can readily list 10 benefits associated with implementation of standardized work routines:

1.    Employee involvement and empowerment.

2.    Consistency (reduction of variation) among staff members performing the work.

3.    Improved productivity without added stress.

4.    Improved, consistent quality.

5.    Reduction or elimination of errors and mistakes (causes of defects).

6.    Work process stability.

7.    Increased employee safety.

8.    Improved cost management as wastes are removed.

9.    Availability of a great tool for staff training.

10.    Visual management—managers and supervisors can see when processes are not operating normally.


“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.”


It’s easy to see that what works well in the health industries laboratories easily transfers and is applicable to the job site, too. Both can and should participate in the shared benefit, learning from one another reassured by the affirmation as we arrive at the same conclusions when it comes to business management.

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 [email protected].

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