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Abnormality Management

There are many different styles of management. One that works well in a Lean environment is abnormality management. In a nutshell, systems are developed that highlight abnormalities. When these abnormal conditions are present, leaders and their teams take action to return the situation to standard.

While this sounds simple, the truth is that it is seldom applied effectively, because most organizations do not have clear standards that are consistently followed.

The basic process of abnormality management goes something like this:

  1. Develop a standard.
  2. Develop a way to identify when the standard is not being met. (i.e. make the abnormal condition apparent). This is most often done with visual controls or some form of daily management.
  3. Take action to remove the abnormal condition.

Now, as you dive deeper into the steps, it is clear that it is easier said than done. Developing a standard requires creating robust processes. It involves training teams. And it involves enforcing that standard through industrial discipline.

Basic visual controls can be easy to establish, but in complicated processes or high-volume production environments, they can be difficult to identify. if a situation is outside of the norm.

And taking action requires the availability of resources and the presence of the appropriate skills within the team. Those can both be in short supply.

On the plus side, though, abnormality management works well in a Lean environment. Lean makes extensive use of Standard Work, visual controls, kanban, daily management, 5S, jidoka, and other tools designed to make problems stand out. Abnormality management creates a positive feedback loop. When abnormalities are identified, processes get improved, which makes it easier to spot future abnormalities.

  • Abnormality management can limit a leader’s creativity. It focuses more on problems than on opportunities.
  • Abnormality management does not work well when standards are not present. Trying to manage by abnormality too soon in a process’s development is a waste of time.


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  • Sonatej Solutions says:

    To work towards the Abnormality Management it requires very strong committment to the task and continous very sincere effort to complete the task at right time. so I think to remove any abnormality in Management practice.

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