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Maintaining stability in times of uncertainty (5 weeks on)

February 28, 2022
In mid-January I posted a news item about a Plant Manager planning a well-deserved break, however he wanted to maintain stability in the workplace whilst he had time off. This article is a follow on.

If you can’t recall the article or haven’t read it, please review it here.

No plan covers everything … and that is OK! (Toyota Kata, McGraw Hill, 2009.)

The Plant Manager didn’t plan for:

  • Large portions of staff being away due to either having COVID or being close contacts.
  • Maintenance Operators to be used on the production line as there weren’t enough production staff to run the plant.
  • Interruptions both to the supply of raw materials and transport of finished product to DCs and customers directly.

But all happened … !

Does this mean that the Plant Manager wasted their time (and others) by dividing his existing Leader Standard Work (LSW) between the team, working individually with each member of the team to accept the changes, and training and mentor each person in their ‘new’ LSW?

The answer was 100% NO. The LSW created structure in a seemingly uncontrollable environment. In this time of uncertainty, the LSW acted like glue to prevent total chaos. Yes, they wobbled, yes at times those that were asked to complete the LSW didn’t want to, but they limped through.

The biggest learning was surprising (to me)!

I had noted in the January article that LSW is like Operator Standard Work, with a slightly different focus. LSW is the set of clear and defined ‘leadership tasks’ that occur in the work area to support the achievement of expected results and improve them.

So what was the biggest learning to me?

When I asked those that were asked to complete the LSW why they continued to do so, even during the height of this uncertainty was, one member answered … “Because we knew the reason behind the LSW, this hinted to us what we could expect if we didn’t follow it”.

Wow, I didn’t expect that!


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