Hammerkit Master Class: Standardise it, Do it, Improve it, Repeat
There are many steps you need to take to implement lean digital production in your business, but, in my opinion, the most important aspect of lean is standardization. When you standardize, you create a baseline for improvement that allows you to know how much better you are doing things that you were before. The trouble in our industry is that we seem unable to create standardized production methods because we are locked into the belief that everything should be a one-off, unique creation that is built by hand to order. We believe this and it has become the norm. However, now is the time for a change.
Almost all service industries have been going through a process of service design that seeks to define the value to the customer and try to maximize it. This leads to service process standardization that helps a business to focus improvement efforts. You can think of examples from airlines, banks, insurance companies, health providers and even government offices that seek to provide better service with less resource commitments. They want to focus their resources on the parts that matter – those that add value to the customer – rather than on wasted effort.
The web industry is a service industry. We deliver digital solutions to people that order them. Those people have different tastes, wants and desires so we need to be able to cater for them if we want to prosper. What we do not need to do is provide an infinite palette of choices that lead to an infinite number of ways a problem can be solved. It is not good for the customer or the producer.
If you are familiar with Gordon Ramsay and his approach to fixing failing restaurants, you will see standardization in practice. Ramsey does the same episode after episode: First, clean the kitchen. Remove everything that is unwanted, unnecessary or downright dangerous. Second simplify the menu focusing on a core dish or two (the house specials) that you can produce to the highest standard every time. Third, coach the staff to deliver the service you want and be attentive to the customers needs. Next, simplify the environment and focus on how the service will flow from the first moment a customer enters the restaurant. The final step is to promote the newly improved, standardized, simplified elegant restaurant by sharing the house special with prospective customers.
Not only is Ramsay fixing a restaurant, he is doing it with a tried and tested process that delivers results. A standardized process creating a new baseline service for a failing establishment.
When you standardize, measurement becomes easier. Measuring means you can make processes visual. When process results are visual, your people will respond and raise their game. You get better.
So standardize. Do it. Improve it. Repeat. This simple formula is enough to make large-scale gains in your digital production efforts.