Monday, April 23, 2012

Do Standards Stifle Creativity?

By Pascal Dennis

I've lucky enough to work around the world in industries as varied as manufacturing, health care, finance, construction, agriculture, universities and so on.

It's remarkable how the same patterns keep arising -- the same chess positions, if you will.

On reflection, maybe it's not so surprising -- people are people.

One of the most common objections to Lean I've heard is, "But standardization will hinder my creativity."

"We don't want cookbook medicine/design/construction/farming/teaching..."

Let me tell you a story.

My wife, Pamela, teaches kindergarten and her class has a number of kids with learning disabilities.

Some have symptoms so severe, their therapists doubt they'll be able to speak, read or communicate easily.

But Pam has implemented simple, visual standards for core activities -- tying your shoes, putting on you coat and mitts, going to the bathroom and so on.

As a result, all her kids are able to do all of these things without difficulty or stress.

The effect?

Energy is freed up for learning.

Pam's kids develop much quicker than expected. A number of therapists have said, "Wow!"

That's the power of standards -- they free you up for learning, fun and for creating stuff.

Of course, we must remember that standards are the best way we currently know.

Standards change as we get better.

(And we get better by asking our people to figure out better & better ways of doing what we need to do)

Make sense?



1 comment:

  1. I hear the comment more lately, "if we don't create a standard we cannot improve". hopefully this is not just a fad but truely a realization.