What is SPONSOR Standard Work (sSW)?


Sponsor standard work or more popularly known as Leader Standard Work is the work that leaders of any organization do as a routine or in other words need to do as their routine but often times dont do!

Before we get into what is LSW, it is important to understand what Leaders do or should do!

John Kotter stated in the 1990 HBR article that “Leaders don’t make plans, they don’t solve problems, they don’t even organize people. What Leaders really do is to prepare organizations for change and help them cope as they struggle through it”. Leadership isn’t mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with “Charisma” or other exotic personality traits. It is not the province of a chosen few.

In the lean tradition, Fujio Cho is often quoted as saying:

·      Always think of the customer first

·      Go and See first hand

·      Ask Why

·      Show Respect

The SW of a leader should originate from and align with Goal Deployment (Hoshin Kanri) i.e. where the business should be headed in the short term and long term.

At a minimum then, the following should be part of a Leader’s SW. The Leader’s SW should be aligned and interlocked with his/her line manager’s SW and with his/her direct reports’ SW.

·      Weekly 1:1 with the Leader’s line manager

·      Weekly 1:1 with the Leader’s direct reports

·      Weekly 1 Coaching session with his/her team members

·      Weekly 1 knowledge sharing session

·      Weekly 1 Gemba walk (1 process or sub process per week) – sit next to the person 1:1 and understand the process first and take notes/observations (use these observations to coach the team members in weekly 1:1 or coaching sessions, pull CI ideas from them and request them to post the ideas on the CI board)

·      Bi-weekly KPI (metrics) review meeting for the leader’s section/department/function with his/her team members (PDCA the section/department/function business plan – pull CI ideas from them to improve their section KPIs and request them to post the ideas on the CI boards)

·      Bi-weekly KPI (metrics) review meeting with the leader’s line manager for his/her section – (PDCA the section/department/function business plan)

·      Bi-weekly CI board huddles for the leader’s section/department/function

·      Bi-weekly Visual Management Board huddles for the leader’s section/department/function

·      Weekly Leader’s own reflection time

The above items are just a start. Other items as necessary can be added and PDCA’d based on the leader’s own reflections. The frequency of the above items can also be PDCA’d.

LSW is not about calendarizing meetings in Outlook and making our calendar look busy. It is more about behaviors.



What is leader standard work?