Standardization is something that people are expected follow like law. In The Toyota Way Fieldbook, a house was brought into use to exemplify the various types of standards. Specifications for standardization of the product and process generally come from engineering, and standard processes come from a variety of specialty departments.
Toyota encompasses all the standards which fit into the frame of a traditional bureaucracy from the perspective of those working on the shopfloor – rules. However, in a lean system there are two major differences. First, it is loud and clear that the work group led by a group leader has duty for molding all of the rules into action within their area of control through standardized work. Second, those who formulate the rules are expected to spend time on the shop floor to deeply understand the impact of the standards on the work groups.
Standardized work is the means used to define work tasks with the least amount of waste. The standardization of work happens at two levels: First, a complex description of the steps, time taken by each step, and how the work flows shown in a diagram called the “standardized work sheet.” Second, is the key points on how they should be performed and reasons for those key points.
Since Toyota’s DNA is based on continuous improvement and respect for people, they expect the minimum serious specifications and they want the work groups to have as much control as possible over continuous improvement on the standards. Thus, standardized work is held by the work groups who focus on continuous improvement of quality, safety, productivity, cost and human resource management.