Standardized Work Job Instruction Sheets


Standard Work is one of the foundations upon which Toyota’s success is built. Job Instruction Sheets (JIS) are tools to help manage standard work. A JIS lists the step-by-step tasks that are done in order to complete a job, and provides a picture for each task. For example, if I wanted to write a JIS on drinking a beer while I was watching a football game, I cold break the actions necessary down into steps. Step 1 – Get lazy butt off the couch by standing up.  Step 2 – Walk to the fridge. Step 3 – Open fridge door. Step 4 – Get beer from 2nd shelf. Step 5 – Step back as you close the door. Step 6 – Walk to the drawer next to the fridge. Step 7 – Open the drawer. Step 8 – Dig through the sharp utensils (without cutting yourself on your girlfriend / wives cooking knives) until you find the bottle opener. Step 9 – Open the bottle. Step 10 – Drop the bottle opener back into the drawer. Step 11 – Shut the drawer. Step 12 – Walk to the trash can. Step 13 – Throw away the bottle cap (Note – Steps 12 and 13 are optional if you have a seriously understanding wife / girlfriend….if not, then make sure you follow these two steps). Step 14 – Walk back to the couch. Step 15 – Sit back down again. Step 16 – Empty beer bottle into mouth. Step 17 – Repeat until the football game is over….or you fall asleep.

The next step in creating a JIS for this activity, is to have someone photograph each and every step. This detail is critical, since a picture leaves less room for interpretation than words. When making a JIS, I typically have only 6 tasks and pictures together on a page.

Now, on to kaizen (continuous improvement). Thinking about the above example, how could we turn this into a much more simple JIS, and still accomplish our goal? By the way, what is our goal? Simply put “Beer…..in my tummy…..with as little effort as possible.” So, what simple improvements could we have made to accomplish this goal with out getting my lazy butt off the coach? First, we could buy one of those tiny fridges that fit conveniently next to the couch. Second, we could have a magnetic bottle opener attached to the tiny fridge. Third, we could face the fridge toward my seat on the couch, so that I didn’t have to move to open the door. Okay, now what would our JIS look like? Step 1 – open fridge door as I grab the bottle opener from the front of the fridge. Step 2 – remove lid from bottle. Step 3– place bottle opener back on front of fridge as you are closing the fridge door. Step 4 – stuff the bottle cap under the couch seat (Odds are she’ll find them eventually, but probably not while you are watching the game….so don’t worry about it now).

So we’ve taken a 17 step, dangerous Job Instruction Sheet, and turned it into a 4 step JIS, by improving the 5S just a bit. We will discuss 5S in more detail in one of the next articles.

What are some other reasons to make make JIS’s? Good question. There are 4 main answers.

1. Safety. Having detailed JIS’s ensures safe work practices. If we document (with extreme detail and pictures) exactly how we want someone to do a job….then the likelihood of them hurting themselves or others is lessened. If we have shown that following these specific steps is safe….then those that are trained on this JIS should also be safe.

2. Quality. If we know that by following these actions, quality product is made, then our quality will be better. In other words, human error is taken out of the equation. This does not mean that you will never have quality problems. But it does mean that the likelihood of a person (who has been following the JIS) causing that problem is very minimal.

3. Information Transfer. Every company has a “Moe.” Moe is the guy that has been there for a million years, and knows how everything works. As a supervisor, if I’m having a problem with a specific machine, I want to go call Moe. That’s great, but what happens when Moe retires….or gets hit by a bus! Hopefully never happen, but it’s possible. The point is, Moe won’t always be there. Job Instruction Sheets capture as much information as possible from the “Moe’s” of the company, and put them into an easy to follow, easy to train from format. In fact, Moe should be one of the guys that is working to write these things.

4. Accountability. This is another one of the big reasons for JIS. During every implementation, I run across people that are doing things “the wrong way.” When I question them about it, I hear, “I was never told to do it that way.” Or “I like doing it this way better.” Whenever a team decides that this is the one, best way of doing a specific task, and then when it is verified by others (management, engineers, experienced employees, etc), then that becomes law. When different people are doing things different ways, then you introduce back into the equation the possibility of human error (which as we’ve discussed above, leads to safety and quality problems). So, we work to coach, counsel, and train the individuals who don’t want to follow the JIS. If they continue to not get on board, maybe we work to coach, counsel, and retrain them some more. If they are still not following the JIS’s, then they need to be held accountable. Period. Every organization has a disciplinary structure. Not following the standardized Job Instruction Sheets should be rolled into this policy.

Now, all that being said, that doesn’t mean that a JIS can’t change. Far from it! JIS’s are living, breathing, flexible documents. If a better way is found to do something, then great! The employee that comes up with that better way should bring the suggestion up to their supervisor, who will fill out a kaizen form (that I will discuss later in the weeks), the new method is verified by a team of experienced employees, supervisors, and engineers. If all agree that the new way is better, and doesn’t cause any safety or quality problems, then the JIS is changed, and becomes the new stadard. Very quickly after this, all the affected employees (that perform that job) must be retrained to the new standard.

One of the first mistakes that my clients usually make when starting a JIS program is to not put in enough detail. Put more detail than you think is necessary! Leave no room for someone to do something different, that could cause a problem. I’ll give you an example. When I first worked on the team that started up a Toyota plant, we started with just a few people. I was the Group Leader, and I had 7 team members that worked for me. We were responsible for getting many of the materials that we would need to ramp up production. So, I ordered 6 trash cans out of an office supply catalog. They looked like they were good, durable trash cans from the pictures in the catalog. When they arrived, I saw that these things were monsters! Obviously too big to lift. They did have wheels though, so we could wheel them to the trash dumpsters. The problem was that once we wheeled them over to the dumpster, we couldn’t lift them up into the dumpster. So, we ordered portable steps on wheels to be located in a home position close to the dumpsters. Whenever you wheeled the trash to the dumpster, you wheeled it next to the steps. Then, you walked up the steps, pulled the plastic bag out of the monster size trash can, and into the dumpster, and then wheeled the trash can back to its home position. Worked great for several months. Then, we started hiring more people…..lots more people. One day, I asked one of the new employees to take out the trash. I pointed out the trash can, and pointed to where the dumpsters were, then I went about my business. About twenty minutes later, I found a gathering of people around this guy, who was laying on the ground next to the dumpster. He had tried to lift this monster size trash can over his head, and threw his back out. It ended up keeping him out of work for over two weeks. Now, obviously this was my fault as his manager. I hadn’t trained him on taking out the trash, I didn’t show him what the stairs on wheels were for, and he was injured because of it. Immediately, my team and I wrote (with pictures) a JIS for taking out the trash, and trained everyone on it within a day. A few weeks later, someone was taking out the trash, and he sprained his ankle because he was pulling the trash can backwards through the factory. So, we had forgotten to add, “push don’t pull” in the Job Instruction Sheet. So, we added this detail to the Job Instruction Sheet on taking out the trash, and quickly retrained everyone.

Just to reemphasize this point, “The more detail in a Job Instruction Sheet….with pictures….the better! I would like to hear any Standardized Work stories from others.

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