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Standardized Work

What is Standardized Work?

Standardized Work (SW) is the foundation for all improvement programs. SW defines a standard — “the one best way” — for any given process. Collectively, these standards, and the management system that supports them, become the common reference points for the way people think, observe, interact, perform tasks and operate equipment, typically on the frontlines in manufacturing and healthcare.

SW is both a way of organizing and thinking about work and an approach to training people more effectively. It is a holistic methodology — a way to “connect all the dots” of frontline improvement, leadership and performance. It’s like putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle: You start by assessing all the pieces, then building the frame around them. SW frames all the improvement pieces including Lean, Kata, Kaizen, KPIs, Operational Excellence, TWI and the J programs.

In addition to fighting the negative effects of instability, variation, waste, unreasonableness and inconsistency, SW:

  • Establishes a baseline and mindset for improvement
  • Provides direction and measurement materials for management and supervisors
  • Establishes guidance and standards for worker performance and supervision — person to person, team to team, facility to facility
  • Teaches observation skills and their impact on improvement solutions
  • Synchronizes work procedures and improvement activities
  • Clarifies criteria for building quality and safety into each process
  • Explains the optimal way to proceed under current working conditions
  • Provides tools for supervisors to apply standards and manage work comprehensively
  • Builds tenets for judging normality or abnormality in the way of work

Our partnership with the “father of Standardized Work”

Our SW course is the brainchild of Isao Kato, who spent 35 years with the Toyota Motor Corporation and is recognized as “the father of standardized work and kaizen courses” at Toyota. We visited Mr. Kato in Toyota City over a two-year period as he was visualizing how his very own SW concepts and practices could be taught and spread outside of Japan. The TWI Institute collaborated with Mr. Kato in the construct of the programming, and he has entrusted and honored us with exclusive rights to teach his Standardized Work course globally.

Photo: Gaining first-hand knowledge of SW: TWI Institute leaders Patrick Graupp, VP and Senior Master Trainer, and Scott Curtis, CEO, meet in Japan with Mr. Isao Kato.

Why Standardized Work is Effective


Rather than a “point fix” or “discrete tool,” you can leverage SW – and realize its benefits – across your entire workplace spectrum.


SW is a philosophy and practice of observing, thinking and doing things right to optimize human/equipment performance and create flow.


Our SW program shows you how to identify and act on the true causes of problems on your frontlines.


SW enables detection and solutions for root causes of performance gaps, variation, abnormalities and safety risks.


Your people feel respected and become more engaged by participating in decisions and improvements. Supervisors learn to involve, develop, instruct and lead people effectively.

Strategically Aligned

SW is the link between strategic priorities and frontline processes, performance and people.

Available Programs

The TWI Institute Standardized Work course is available as both a training program and a training certification. Choose whether you’d like the Institute to help your people implement SW methodologies, or if you want to equip your people to be SW trainers.

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