The Industry Standard in Officiating
A colleague of mine forwarded this great article to me today. It is titled, “Set a Standard” and can be found in the December issue of Referee magazine. In this article, we see a lot of parallels to the case for setting standards in manufacturing: expectations, accountability, evaluation and improvement.
What I found most interesting about this article was how the NHL’s vice president and director of officials Stephen Walkom handled the difficult task of creating the standards in the first place. His particular challenge was different: 67 officials make up the NHL officiating staff and ALL of them want to ref in the Finals.
Walkom found that “no two officials enforced the rules and interacted with the players and coaches the same. It seemed like all of them had their own well-intentioned style that left the players and coaches guessing.”
Funny, but in every single Job Instruction session I conduct, I find that no two people do the same job the same way. In fact, the number of people in the room often equals the number of different methods to do the same job. To compound that problem, most people insist that it is up to the individual to figure out their own best way. The way I handle this is to let the group work out the best way while working within the boundaries of QCDS requirements set by the company. The result is always an agreed upon standard that the workers themselves, those most familiar with the job, created and now own.
Walkom employed the same approach with his officials in a workshop. Read an example from the article and you may see how powerful this technique really is in creating a firm standard:
“They did a workshop,” he explains, “and from that workshop they broke it down in three simple categories because I believe simple is best.
Within those three categories we said, “OK, let’s define what each of those three categories are and do you need all of them? Do you need full adherence to all of them to be great at officiating, to achieve excellence?’ And the answer from the room was, ‘Yes, you do.’ Then the next step was, ‘OK, if that’s the case, now we will observe you to those standards.’
They defined each one of them, and although it’s not a lot of words, it say an awful lot. A guy would say, ‘Well, I’m not a strong forward skater.’ Then you’re not at the NHL standard, because you said as a group collectively that you need to be a strong forward skater to be able to work in the National Hockey League. ‘Well, my judgment is great. I have awesome presence.’ Yes, you do, and you might survive the game, but to be great – to be great consistently – your team said that you needed all of these three components, and you needed them working in unison.
“We took the feedback from those guys who really know what’s going on on the ice, and that’s how we judge our group coming up as well,” says Walkom. “Our whole scouting system is based on those three components, and that way we believe that we won’t hire and hope; we’ll know.”
This last comment really hit home with me when relating to standard work and job instruction. From the JI training we learn: "Don't let training happen by accident."
I think many people feel that standards take a lot of control or at least freedom from their job. But when we talk about control, what we are talking about is knowing the process is in control, not hoping that it is in control. Walkom has shown us a fairly simple of way to know things are in control: involve the people who know the job the best.
Of course, there is the follow up element of this program and apparently this is working so well for the NHL that Walkom can mike up his refs, record clips of a pair of refs in a game and use those clips as training aids for review of the standards with veteran refs and those coming up through the system.
There are some troubling things about Walkom’s approach from a manufacturing perspective, particularly the judging part. But the referee’s reputation depends on both physical ability, judgment and interpersonal skills on the ice. He must create the value, nobody or nothing else will, so Walkom’s group must have clear standards to judge him against.
So, don’t get all excited out there, you command and control managers. You know who you are! I’m not advocating an approach to take control of people through standardization. The outcome is a little different in this example than something we are used to. What is interesting here though is that the practice of having people that do the work take control of the standards ultimately brings better control to the system as a whole.
Labels: Standard Work