Posted by: JC Gatlin | April 5, 2010

5 Actions to achieve standardization


A lot of work goes into a PDCA – identifying the problem and breaking it down into root causes, then developing counter measures to eliminate those root causes. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of that hard work is never fully realized. It can be frustrating when an improvement is made, but no one seems to adopt the improvement.

Standardization is one of the most important steps in the PDCA loop. But achieving standardization can be a very tricky technique. Here’s 5 actions to take to help ensure your PDCA reaches standardization across all communities.

Step 1.

Make sure all counter measures are implemented. Don’t fall into the trap of writing the counter measure on the PDCA form, but never actually carrying it out. If you have to delay beginning the next PDCA on a new problem until these counter measures are implemented, make that call.

Step 2.

Publicize the improvements. Develop a plan to “get the word out.” A lot of times Teammates don’t adopt a better process simply because they were unaware. Write an email that goes out to everyone affected by the new process. Post an announcement on the Teammate Site home page. Discuss your PDCA and its improvements during the next Construction or Sales Meeting. Can you pick-up the phone and verbally tell the Teammates affected by the improvement about the new standard?

Step 3.

Determine what tools are needed to standardize the process. Do you need to create or update a Standardized Work Instruction Sheet (SWIS) or Value Stream Map (VSM.) Do the System Standards need to be updated? Does the Construction, Production or Sales Manual (or all three) need to be updated? Do you need to create a Hot Spot Sheet? Can you implement visual management or 5S on the jobsite or in the work area?

Step 4.

Develop an education plan. Do you need to have a jobsite workshop going over the improvement and how to implement? Do you need to create a presentation for an upcoming Sales or Construction Meeting? Can you host a web conference to go over the improvement? How will new Teammates learn about this new standard? Do you need to develop a certification program? When the New Home Introduction was improved, the PDCA group developed a certification program and required all Construction Professionals to attend and become “certified.”

Step 5.

Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. Set some follow-up dates to check if the standardization took hold. See how many people or communities are following the new standard. You may want to conduct the first check one month after the implementation, then again six months later and then again 12-months later. If the standardization didn’t take hold, jump back to steps 2, 3 and 4 and try again. Now put those follow-up dates your Outlook calendar right now so you won’t forget.

Like I said before, achieving standardization is tricky. But the reward is a time saver and less headaches in the future. Standardization removes variation and helps eliminate the 7 wastes, as well as provides process stability and a platform for continued improvement.

© April 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. Standardization is a simple concept and so logical, but to “immortalize” it is a beast. We know how to standardize it, we know where to place it (electronic and paper manuals, value streams and SWISS’s) but I ‘l be darned, if we know how to keep executing! It is tied to knowledge waste, but the knowledge has been captured and documented. It is more to the tune of the “Knowledge of how” has dissipated with the economy.
    Just when people should work smarter, they fall back into comfortable roles when the environment around them becomes difficult. Fight for standardization and the environment becomes filled with less chaos and more predictability. That is really where the stress lives — in unpredictability. Whatever the reason for this continual execution problem – I just don’t know ….. Ahhh, I guess it is time to delve into another PDCA.

  2. Setting realistic follow-up dates, and pre-determining when to share the results of the countermeasures can keep a PDCA on track. A regularly schedule Ganmi is a good place to start. Once presented initially at one Ganmi, get the team pre-set for a Ganmi later on. This can help close the loop and provide that ‘reminder’ that we all sometimes need.

  3. You mention in step 2 about creating a plan to “get the word out”. It would appear that this process would already be standardized. Has the implimentation “process” ever been PDCA’d as it sounds like there may not be a standard proceedure that is continually followed?

    Comfort is another challenge. How do you keep people from getting comfortable with their results? We all have a tendancy to reach a level of “comfort” when, in our own mind, a task (or in this case a PDCA) is complete. I ran into a similar issue with project meetings continually running over on time. I went throught the process, initially thinking it was due to a few individuals hijacking the meeting with ford talk and getting off topic. That actually was not the root cause. What I now believe the root cause is, is comfort. Teammates are coming in to these meetings, sitting down in the nice, big, comfy chairs with their coffee and donuts and prepare to camp out and lose that sense of urgency to stay on task. So for my countermeasure I removed their “comfort” object…the chairs and got a taller table. All meetings have finished early since.

    So in a round about way, I am saying find the “comfort” object and see if you can alter it.

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