STANDARDIZATION AND CREATIVITY
Standardization is misunderstood in many companies and because of that we too often meet objections towards it. The standards act as barriers against continuous improvements instead of supporting improvements.
The use of standards on the factory floor:
It is important to realize that standards may be set in various ways but it is also important—and may be more important—to realize that standards usually include the following three items (Kondo, 1991):
1. The objective of the work: taking a production process as an example, this includes the quality specifications or quality standards for the intermediate or final products which must be made in the process.
2. Constraints on carrying out the work: these consist of restrictions which must be adhered to in performing the work; items which ensure the safety of employees or assure product quality are the most important of these.
3. The means and methods to be employed in performing the work.
Item 1above must always be achieved and therefore it is important to include this item in the work standard. Therefore it is also important to check and discuss the objectives of the many different processes production as well as supporting processes—to secure that the objectives exist, understood and accepted.
Item 2must always be obeyed or adhered to by whoever is responsible for doing the work. There are usually no objections to including in the work standards items which ensure the safety of employees.
Item 3there is a tendency to conclude that everybody must obey these standardization means and methods because they usually have been standardized after careful consideration to quality and productivity.
According to Kondo (1991) therefore the standardized means and methods in item 3 should be divided into two types or two manuals:
1. Manual for beginners (novices);
2. Manual for experienced workers.
- The purpose of the manual for experienced workers is to have an updated collection of best practices in all areas of the company.
- Whenever an experienced worker finds a better way of performing a particular job this should be included in the work standards for experienced workers.
- It is extremely important that the management of the company establishes a system which secures that hints and ideas concerning new ways of doing things are collected and, if needed, included in the manual for experienced workers.
- From this it is seen that this way of looking at standards will support creativity.
- It is of course necessary that management leads the process and encourages people to always be on the lookout for improvement of the standards. An existing standard should be a challenge for everybody.
In relation to ISO 9000 and other international standards it is apparent that items 1 and 2 mentioned above are well suited for certification while this is not necessarily true for all the elements mentioned under item 3.