What is Leader Standard Work?

In the fall of 2020, Kaas Tailored hosted a series of Zoom calls unpacking our Daily Management System (DMS). Each month we focused on a different element of our DMS, starting with strategy, then discussing daily huddles, then talking about Visual Management Systems (VMS), and ending with Leader Standard Work. In this post, Jeff Kaas shares the fourth step of our DMS, Leader Standard Work.

Where Did the Term “Leader Standard Work” Come From?

The fact that we have a definition for our Daily Management System and Leader Standard Work comes from the work we’ve done together with our friends at Nordstrom. As an organization, at Kaas Tailored, we are not good at Leader Standard Work yet. We’re willing to share the mess that we are with the world. I think this is really valuable because you can read a lot about companies that are doing it well, but we think there’s a lot to learn in the mess. 

Before diving into Leader Standard Work, let’s quickly define Standard Work. Standard Work is one of the principles of lean manufacturing. Standard Work is the agreed-upon way that a task, process, or system should operate. Within each step, we define the content, sequence, timing, and outcome to be clear on how to achieve repeatable results. So we applied this principle of Standard Work to how we develop leaders and came up with the name Leader Standard Work.

What is Leader Standard Work?

I learned about Leader Standard Work as I observed the Continuous Improvement team at Nordstrom help their president. It started at a personal level. They asked her, “What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to become? What do you need more of in your life? And, what’s keeping you from getting there?” 

Then they looked at her calendar and the current state. They could look at the current state activities and ask, “How do those activities help you become the person that you want to become?” And there was a massive gap. She was suffocating in the organizational structure which, was to meet all day, get nothing done, work all night to get something done, and then try to do the meeting all day again. 

How Does Kaas Tailored Use Leader Standard Work?

My current state has already been for a long time, not very active during the day. So I do have quite a bit of time in my world to be thinking about the things that are under my hat. At Kaas Tailored, using Leader Standard Work is not our current state, so for a lot of leaders, this will be transformational to reflect “Who am I now? And who do I want to become? How does my calendar line up with that?” Some leaders will realize they’re working in the wrong company or that they have the wrong assignment in our organization. 

At Kaas Tailored, we have a list of known competencies, and if you master this list of known competencies, you will be qualified to lead anywhere. Leader Standard Work helps our team members have an intentional strategy (or a direction they want to go) to build the habits, schedule, and resources so that they can move in the leadership direction they want to go.

If you’d like to learn more about how to implement a Daily Management System within your organization, or more about Kaizen and Continuous Improvement, consider signing up for a Kaas Tailored Waste Tour.