Lean Bible: Five S

 Lean Tools: 5S 
Creating a safe, orderly environment is important when it comes to determining wasteful processes and ensuring your environment is in the best shape possible.

The 5S methodology is a common type of workplace organization method based around five Japanese words which, when taken together, are useful in improving effectiveness and efficiency by clearly storing and identifying items in the same place, every time. The idea here is that it allows for standardization across processes while at the same time saving a considerable amount of time in the long run. According to this methodology, every time the human eye flashes across a scattered workspace, it takes a fraction of a second to process everything, and, if needed, choose the correct object for the current process from amongst the clutter. 

While individually, each instance of looking at the cluttered space is negligible, they add up over time, especially when you take every member of the team into account. Sort Keep the workplace clean of non-required items, remove detritus properly. Eliminate routine obstacles for common tasks. Decrease periods of disturbance by keeping the space distraction free. Prune the workspace regularly to prevent new distractions from appearing. Keep tools for separate steps in separate places. Have a designated space for otherwise unwanted objects. Keep the workspace clear of waste. Set in order Place items in the workplace in the order they will likely be used. Keep everything required for common steps readily at hand to reduce waste. 

Keep required items in the same place, every time. Work that comes in first should be completed first. Do what you can to smooth out your workflow by arraigning your workspace accordingly Get into the habit of always completing tasks by following the same steps. Shine Keep your personal workspace as clean as possible by cleaning it at the end of the day. Use the task of cleaning as an excuse to ensure everything is properly organized at the end of every day. Regular maintenance helps prevent malfunction which makes the workplace safer for everyone. Ideally, anyone on the team should be able to walk into related spaces and understand where everything is in less than 5 seconds. Standardize 

Determine the best practices for every process and ensure they are used accordingly. Ensure a constant standard of quality when it comes to workplace organization amongst your team. Order will help you keep everything to a reliable standard. There is a place for everything and, as such, everything should always be in its place. Sustain Organizing everything once, only to have to do it again in six months accomplishes nothing, it is important to make organization part of the team’s DNA. This S also translates into doing something without being asked to. 

Sustaining this practice will most likely require both discipline amongst team members and plenty of training. Sustaining organization is a marathon, not a sprint. Monthly feedback will be required. Implementing 5S While old habits can be hard to break, with the right type of preparation you can implement 5S with your own team, regardless of how long the team has been functioning without structure. The first thing you will need to do is quell resistance with an overview of the 5S system and the many ways in which it improves efficiency, lowers costs and improves safety depending on your particular business. 

Do your research Before settling on the 5S specifics, the first thing you should do is walk around your workplace and observe how your team works naturally. Consider both the most productive team members as well as the least producproductive and see what is different about the two. Follow each process through to completion and take note of areas where 5S can improve the flow. Keep an eye out for unused equipment as well as potential hazards, those who work around them every day are likely blind to their existence. Really take the time to explore all of the space available for each process and determine what is useful and what is waste. Build a 5S team After you have gathered your data, you will need to assemble a team to help you craft the 5S framework. 

This team should be a mix of those who are most productive on the team, those who have been there longest and one or two newer members to provide a different take on things. This is truly a group project which means it is important to get buy in from other members of the team as well when discussing specifics 

5S scenarios that will affect them the most. Only when everyone feels as though they are a part of the process will they readily accept more expansive changes. Help the team sustain In order for 5S to really catch on with your team, it is important to make a point of providing shine, straighten and sort are given their own chunk of time at the end of each day. This will show that you feel the tasks are important and will also make it more difficult for team members to put it off in favor of another task. Start by making sure the tools that everyone needs when it comes to the shine step are readily available. 

Nothing will nip a new habit in the bud like difficultly accessing required supplies. Make sure you include extra in the budget for the first round, you never know how dirty some workspaces can get. When it comes to sorting, the 5S team should make a plan to get everyone initially sorted properly and also a suggestion of minor workplace habit changes that can make sorting easier. 

There should be a limit on the amount of in-progress work which can be piled onto a given workspace as well as a discussion of where items that are rarely need can be placed, these locations can be either temporary or permanent, the important thing is that they are clearly defined and regularly used. 

When it is time to straighten it is important to provide a broad framework your team can follow while also allowing them enough agency to move things in their own workspace around within reason. 

The entire purpose of 5S is to make your team as productive as possible, sticking to the rules too stringently will only hamstring that purpose. Team-wide spaces should have new areas clearly marked to keep everyone in the right mindset while new habits form. When used properly, the standardize step can provide a reliable framework to ensure that everyone understands the broad strokes of every process. Depending on the tools or equipment required, it can also function as a quality management system whereby every step is guaranteed to have ococcurred based on proper placement of required items. 5S Implementation Tips Start by providing everyone with information on 5S and why it is effective as well as specific details relating to what you think it will change for your team. Early buy-in is crucial for long-term success. Set up a message board in a public space to remind team members of your team’s 5S specifics. If you are getting a lot of pushback on the idea, before and after pictures of particularly egregious errors can be a great pro-5S tool. 

Rewarding groups or individuals who are following all of the 5S guidelines can provide team members the initial push they need to begin to form new habits. The human brain likes patterns, give it a reason to form a new one and you will be good to go. 5S is only effective if the team goes along with it. Likewise, it shouldn’t be set in stone, if a team member has a better idea than the current system, by all means implement it. 5S is about be as productive as possible, not sticking to a system simply because it is already in place.

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