Variation or Standardisation?

Standard work

The process guys will tell you that you should standardise and reduce variation. Variation is a bad thing.

The customer experience guys will tell you every interaction is different.  No customer is the same. Variation is a good thing.

Which camp is right?

The case for allowing variation

Some situations call for a little flexibility.  We have all been frustrated by organisations where employees blindly follow the process for fear of reprimand or punishment if they don’t.

The case for stamping it out

But there are other situations where you shouldn’t compromise an inch, driving out very last hint of process variation and non conformity.

So should you standardise?

That depends entirely on the situation.  But make a choice.  A conscious decision to allow flexibility is one thing.  Unconscious acceptance of random noise is something totally different.

Though which is which, I’m afraid you will have to work that out for yourself.

I believe in standardising automobiles, I do not believe in standardising human beings
~ Albert Einstein

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Image by Yuki Yaginuma