Standardisation and Climbing Ladders


Share on LinkedIn

How do you climb a ladder?

Climbing a ladder is straightforward…

  1. Put one foot on a rung
  2. Reach up the side rails one hand at a time (health and safety)
  3. Push yourself up with your leg
  4. Put your other foot on the next rung
  5. Repeat

Gradually you will climb higher and higher.

The really important bit of this particular lesson in egg sucking is that without any rungs you have nothing to push against, so you won’t be able to climb any further.

Process Improvement is a lot like climbing a ladder

But instead of having rungs to push against you have standards. If you don’t create and use operating standards then you have nothing to push against and so no way of moving forward.

Process improvement without standards is a bit like trying to swim up-hill…


A couple of caveats for you…

  • You don’t have to standardise everything, only the things that move you forward. So standardising a handle time, for example, isn’t a very helpful thing to do. (Unless of course you want a standard approach to upsetting your customers, which I guess you don’t.)
  • You can have an unstandardised standard (sorry if this is making your head hurt). Maybe you want every waiter in your restaurant to bring their own unique personality to the service they offer. If you do, then you had better make sure each waiter has a unique personality. (Which sounds a little like a standard to me.)

So where it is important…

  • Work out what the standard is
  • Write it down
  • Stick to it

Until, of course, you come up with a better way, then climb up a rung.

If you enjoyed this post click here for updates

Climbing Ladders

Read another opinion

Image by Corey Templeton

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here