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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Understanding and Utilizing Lean and Six Sigma in the Histology Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Standardization is focused on clearly defining the nuances of performance of any process in order to reduce variations between individual performances. Increasing the level of standardization makes other improvement tasks easier since it ensures that when each employee undertakes a particular task, the variables and inconsistencies are minimized. Standardization increases overall process efficiency by outlining the precise way that work will be done in each likely-to-be encountered situation. In essence, standardization reduces the most common types of process and performance variations, and when variations do occur, it makes them much more obvious so they are corrected immediately without being allowed to pass further down-stream. Standardization begins with carefully constructed processes defined within standard operating procedures. Adequate training on the standards with consistent reinforcement will minimize performance variations which contribute to errors and inefficiencies. Tools such as checklists or check sheets, documentation procedures, or computer system prompts will assist in supporting a standardized task performance on key processes. The work of process standardization is documented within well-designed and detailed standard operating procedures or (SOPs).