DON'T LET YOUR IMPROVEMENTS BECOME “TRIBAL KNOWLEDGE”
The Power of Work Instructions
After you have improved a workflow and successfully sold the idea to management, it is time to standardize the new process. This task is a subset of “Implementation” in our Seven-Step model. Failure to write comprehensive work instructions for the improved process may result in the work flow being implemented as people “Think” they understand the new process. In other words work instructions serve as a detailed implementation guide
The “Tribal Knowledge” phenomena may occur in the absence of work instructions. New workers are trained by supervisors or fellow workers from memory. Steps are added, omitted or changed based on the instructor's perception, personal style and recollection. Now think about this happening with every new worker being told as many versions of how a process works as there are people orienting new staff. This approach opens the door to enormous variation and introduces non-value added activity.
We recommend you institutionalize writing work instructions as a part of your process improvement methodology. What better timing, since you have already documented the Proposed Process, you have more than 80% of the work instructions written. We have included a sample of work instructions below. These are automatically generated by VATS from the Proposed Process. Consider adding graphics or screen prints to facilitate the absorption of the new procedure (click on graphic below to view). Remember when you are writing work instructions to do them one small step at a time. Keep them simple so that they are understood by all