Hut,Hut,Hike! 3 Takeaways from Football's Playbook About Standard Work

Hut,Hut,Hike! 3 Takeaways from Football’s Playbook About Standard Work

Posted on Posted in Featured Article, Lean Tools

Football.  That one word evokes many different thoughts and emotions…Anticipation. Excitement. Fall Saturday’s. Tailgating. Loyalty. Teamwork. Standard Work.

Wait. What?

Football teams use standard work in the form of the playbook. It details where everyone is positioned on the field and what their role is in each play.

One of the key elements of any Lean Management System is Standard Work. It allows the user to know what the process should look like and the ability to easily identify when something just isn’t right.

In this brief article, I make the case for watching as much football as possible this fall because it is good for your application of the lean concept known as standard work.

Here are a few lessons to be taken from football about standard work:

Everybody has a roll to play – Every member of the team is vital to a successful outcome. This rings true in sports and in the business world. Creating standard work is the first step in ensuring everyone knows what roll they play.

Just think about what happens when there is a misunderstanding of what play has been called … an interception, a fumble, a wide open receiver catchs a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Everyone is on the same page – In a playbook, a visual depiction of what the play is communicates everyone’s roll in a standard format with standard symbols and language.

A standard work document should also follow a standard format. This way as you create them for different processes in your operation, the user knows how to use them and does not have to spend time trying to figure that out.

You’ll want to include the written instructions for the process and a visual aid where appropriate for each individual step. You may also consider identifying how this process fits into a larger value stream by placing the value stream map on the document.

Flexibility is key – In a football game, communication is essential between team members. While they are playing off of a standard set of plays, today’s quarterbacks often call audibles to account for what the defense is showing.

In similar fashion, we can find ourselves in a myriad of situations that might not be accounted for in a standard work document. Standard work is a living document that should be reviewed on a regular basis to account for the changes in the environment.                                                                                                 Without a regular review, workarounds and quick fixes developed by individuals for their own unique situations will creep into the process.

Communicating with each other in these types of situations can be key, and this highlights the need for regular communication. Football uses a huddle between plays and lean healthcare applies this in the form of a daily huddle communication.

Here are a few steps to follow in creating standard work:

  1. Observe the process and document each step in detail. Put this in a list format displaying each step in number sequence. Where appropriate, add in images showing how to complete the work in an individual step.
  2. Gather stakeholders to validate what you have observed as a group. Have the users of the process observe the process and check your work with an audit against the standard work document.
  3. Before rolling out the standard work, make changes to your process that reflect the best known method that can be implemented NOW. Test these changes for short, defined periods of time to validate that they will work.
  4. Educate the whole team on the key changes to the process and identify a date and time to ‘go-live’ with the new process.

Schedule some time to review the application of the standard work first hand to ensure that it is adopted properly.