Reading Robin Barnwell’slastest post, I was reminded of a conversation I had recently regardingstandard work in our own projects. When our Black Belts share their experiences, it’s really interesting to seehow parts of the project structure are valued differently by each individual.

Let me give you an example. We have a guideline for rapid improvement (kaizen) events that says we should be doing a risk assessment of the new (future state) process on Day 4 of the 5-day event. Some BBs are doing this and say it works fine at that point. Other BBs say that’s too late – you should do a risk assessment on Day 2 when you’re creating the solution – so you can foresee problems and address them as you’re creating your new standard work. Also, the guideline says we should do an FMEA – Failure Mode Effects Analysis – but some BBs say that’s too complicated for most teams when you’re dealing with over 100 process steps. One team in a past project spent almost 8 hours trying faithfully to complete the FMEA as directed, for every process step, since they thought that’s what they needed to do. So some BBs are using a simplified risk assessment form or other contingency planning tool that worked for them in a previous life.

I’d be very interested in anyone’s opinion on how far is too far, when “adapting” project methodology standards or guidelines to a particular situation. Should a strict standard be enforced – we’re supposed to be modeling standard work, after all – or would this result in such an inflexible approach that we mightjeopardize the result of a particular project? Would we be hampering the BB’s ability to use his/her own judgment in a situation that calls for compromise?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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