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Leader Standard Work: An Organizational Tool for Managing Your Work

By: Maxine Washington

Leader Standard Work (LSW) is a tool that is being used more often in health care. LSW is one of the tools within Lean’s management system. It’s an effective tool for organizing one’s schedule, setting priorities and managing one’s time. The LSW concept is based on processes and achieving goals, supporting stainability and, to some degree, succession planning.  

Using Leader Standard Work can be rewarding: 

  • It offers leaders a better idea of their day—it’s like a daily planner on steroids; 
  • It provides the ability to thoughtfully organize key tasks; 
  • It provides a visible way to see accomplishments; 
  • It’s an excellent tracking tool; and 
  • ?It will help you identify what tasks leaders should keep and what they should delegate. 

Developing and implementing it can be challenging for a few reasons:  

  • It can be hard to decide what to include and what not to include; 
  • It takes careful thought to determine for which roles LSW will be most effective; 
  • It entails changing from working from your calendar to working from a plan, which requires a shift in mindset; 
  • It requires a shift or change in the way leaders manage their workload; and 
  • ?It can be overwhelming to learn and use initially. 

Using Leader Standard Work allows for up and downstream accountability. Key functions are defined, establishing transparency to help with maintaining agreed upon standards and allowing for deviations to be promptly addressed. When a new leader is onboarded, Leader Standard Work can help them acclimate to the role and their responsibilities and ensure no gap exists in performing identified key functions.  

My initial introduction to LSW was in the form of a Word document. I found the templates were not reflective of the work a chief, lead, or senior therapist would need to do in order to monitor key functions of the therapy team—for example, quality, safety, efficiency and compliance.  

We developed LSW for each of our four leadership levels. Content and tools are based on the leadership level. Tasks are based on the role’s job description and other key tasks needed to manage the flow on the floor. For example, the senior therapists and lead therapists have their LSW in grid format; monitoring throughput and daily quality checks. In contrast, I and two of my chief therapists are exploring a more dynamic tool that embeds hyperlinks to access key files quickly—for example, project files, works in progress and meeting notes. 

When developing your LSW, be cognizant of what you are including to avoid creating a document that may become overwhelming. The tool can be designed in Word, Excel or OneNote. There are several commercial tools available such as Tervene that also measure individual productivity. Tracking cycle times can be useful as well to understand your real bandwidth. This is where the benefit of visibility emerges, allowing you to clearly see and quantify the demands on your time.  

Leader Standard Work itself is not static like a job description. As business strategies and environmental influences change, so will an LSW. The document will need to be updated over time to ensure tasks are aligned with the current organizational focus.   

The aim is not to account for every aspect of your day. All responsibilities of leaders cannot be included in standard work. However, routine tasks can be planned and organized to best fit in your work week. LSW is a tool aimed to reduce waste and possibly improve flow. For leaders to be productive and accomplish goals, wasting time is something that we cannot afford.   

Do you use Leader Standard Work in your organization?

Share any helpful tips and suggestions.

We would love to hear your experiences.

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Related Content:
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Lean’s management system


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