Standards allow us to learn from our experience, collaborate effectively, and get along nicely.

This includes not only those in a team, but with our future selves. If we do something well now, we’ll be thankful in the future. But what does ‘doing it well’ actually mean?

Setting expectations

This is where we define how to do something - known as: the rules, standards, process, best practice, company policy, process, principles or ‘the way’.

A good standard is:

  • What we know to be the best way of doing something at this moment
  • Steadily evolving in small steps
  • Created and agreed by those who use it
  • Documented succinctly

Where something doesn’t follow a standard, it should pose questions for us like: “Why was the standard not used?” From that, there really can only be two responses:

  • “Sorry, I should have done it to our agreed standard.”
  • “The standard doesn’t work because of X. Here are a couple of options I suggest.”

We can then use that to spur discussion and problem solving for how the standard (or surrounding standards) could be improved.

The essence of every business

This is a working theory, but I think a business boils down to:

  • Having something to sell, and the process of selling it.
  • Developing comprehensive standards.
  • Improving the accuracy of prediction.

Toyota’s approach

I’ve been heavily influenced by Toyota’s approach to business. In essence, it is a set of principles that empowers people to continuously solve problems. It could be described as the scientific method applied to work. Underpinning it all are standards along with how those standards themselves are created and improved.

I highly recommend reading or listening to The Toyota Way, by Jeffrey Liker, by Jeffrey Liker. Although it’s based on a huge corporation, its mindset is readily adoptable at smaller scales. 

It is a means to figuring out your work to be effective, innovative, calm, profitable and steady.