Imagine, if you will, a skilled maintenance technician. He/she is called to fix a problem on a machine. They have a standard set of tools that they take with them. They get to the machine , and realize that the tool they need is not in their bag. They go back and get this tool and their manager suggests that they add this special tool to their bag. They do just that. On the next call, they need a tool that they only use maybe once a month. Again, the suggestion is to add it to their bag. As this continues to happen, the technician ends up with a burdensome and excessively heavy bag filled with things they rarely use. It creates needless confusion and slows them down significantly.
Do we find that our work instructions end up this way? They are intended to be used by our employees, but have they become havens for information to satisfy auditors, engineers, lawyers, quality managers, and accountants? Maybe something happens once or twice and we say, "add it to the work instruction". If we continue down that path, we end up with large multi-page documents that are hard for our employees to utilize on the job. We expect our employees to follow these documents in performing the steps of our process correctly, but if they can't find the "steps" among all of the regulations, are they beneficial? Can they be effective training documents for new employees?
Pat Sweeney, www.explainers.com, offers four main elements that work instructions must contain in order to be effective. They must be...
This creates documents that are much shorter, and can be utilized for effective employee training. It will help us achieve that holy grail of manufacturing, "standard work". Where there is too much direction, there is no direction. Therefore, when we pull the clear steps, or directions away from the regulations, we are on the way to creating clear documents that our teams can really use.
That's just covering some of what make our documents clear. There is so much more to making them clear, as well as credible, accessible, and consistent, which we didn't cover. Work instructions should be the life of our processes. Success Strategy can assist in making these documents live for your organization. Contact us to schedule an information session for your facility decision makers.
Keenan McBride, CPTM
Keenan McBride, CPTM