‘Selling’ 5S to the workforce.

Anybody that has introduced 5S as a concept to the mass ranks of an organisation will know how difficult it can be.  ‘Another flavour of the month’, ‘another thing to fit in’ and ‘when am i supposed to do this’ are amongst the many cries that can come back. But why is this?

The most common mistake organisations make in introducing 5S is failing to link it to the overall message of Lean and Waste removal. All too
often 5S is introduced as a stand alone program with the workplace organisation as its only supporting benefit.

In this case, it is a difficult sell. Leaving only the precise tools and equipment required in an area to perform a specific task, does not go down well when breakdowns and random quality issues are the norm and little is being done to fix them. The majority of people want to do a good
job for the company and keep the process moving, so it is natural for people to want to keep a few spare parts just in case.

In order to succeed 5S needs to be seen as more that just a house keeping tool. It needs to be linked to the bigger picture and to the overall waste identification process. After all that is what it actually is.

So when you are teaching 5S, explain it in those terms. The 1st and 2nd ‘S’ are aimed at setting the process out in such a way that abnormality can be seen quickly. The 3rd and 4th ‘S’ are aimed at trying to look for deeper issues and how a process can be further improved. And finally the 5th ‘S’ is actually all about the entire organisation working to make the process happen.

Also remember, that when a 5S audit is undertaken, it is not really the score that is important (although it does have a place), it is the small opportunities that the team see to improve.


If you would like to know more about 5S why not sign up for the free Kaizentrainer 5S course at

Or read ‘Tools for success’ By Barry Jeffrey and Graham Ross

5S, Great tool, but so often misunderstood

Have you ever tried to implement 5S and received kickback?

I think most people have, if there honest with themselves, But why should this be, after all 5S can only help the workforce can’t it?

I think the truth of the matter, like most aspects of Lean, it is down to local culture and how the tool is deployed. Reading a book and then going out  and implementing 5S really is not the way.

5S will only work if the workforce believes in it as a tool that is useful to them. This means taking time to explain in detail the reasons why 5S can HELP people.

You need to take time to explain that 5S is a waste identification and removal tool, and is there to help find waste at a local level.

In training it needs to be linked to the 7 classic wastes.  5S must not be seen as a house keeping tool, or something that is done when there is a visit. How many times have you heard, ‘Quick the Big Boss’ is visiting today, give the place a quick 5S!’…….Wrong message.

Time needs to be put aside to work locally with the teams as they deploy 5S in their areas. Not just send the middle managers and team
leaders out with audit sheets.

Audit sheets and there use can be one of the ‘make or break’ aspects of how 5S is received. Explain that the score is not the most important
box on the sheet. That honour goes to the area of the form that say’s ‘Opportunities for improvement’. Teams should try and identify just one or two opportunities at a time and work to improve them. They will then see their scores improve over time.  If this is not done, the audit form can become divisive and 5S will start to receive a bad name.

So, 5S, Great tool, make sure it is understood in your organisation!


Lean Learning’s #4 Takt Time

Takt time is one of the most important concepts to grasp in a Lean environment, since it is the principle by which the speed of the process is governed.

The word Takt is derived from the German word for beat. In the case of Lean, this refers to the pace of the process as dictated by the customer. If the customer orders 10, then 10 must be produced, not 9 or 11.

The best way to visualise this is by imagining an orchestra with the conductor at the front. He is the customer. The conductor moves his baton up
and down to indicate the ‘beat’ of the music he requires. The musicians follow this beat, all at the same speed, completely synchronized. If he speeds up, the entire orchestra speeds up with him. As he slows down, so do the musicians.

This is the concept of Takt time. A process should adjust its output based on ‘true’ customer demand and not keep running at its maximum speed.

Takt time can be calculated on virtually every task in a business environment. It can be used in manufacturing e.g. machining parts, drilling holes etc. In administration e.g. processing orders, call centre operations etc or in a production line environment, to pace the line.

When implemented correctly, running a process to Takt time provides many benefits. Just a few of these are:

  •  Since you produce only what is required by the customer, inventory is reduced
  •  Since the ‘product’ moves along the process at a given speed, bottlenecks are easily identified.
  •  Since problem processes are easily identified. repeat issues, like breakdowns, can be understood and fixed.
  •  Since the process moves at a fixed speed, work is balanced across all operators. If it is not bottlenecks will occur.

 A lot of confusion can be generated around Takt time calculations. The simplest way of calculating Takt time is to calculate the Takt time for the output of the process. Work from the perspective of the customer.

In order to calculate Takt time, two pieces of information are required.

  • Available Time – this is the shift time minus any breaks, clean up time etc.
  • The Average Customer Demand – how many does the customer actually require in a given period.

Work in fixed periods (days or weeks) and apply the following calculation.


A store card company receives 2,100 applications per month. And on average they work 20 days per month.

Workers are paid for 7.5 hours per day. They have two 15 minute coffee breaks per day – which are paid.

So the Takt time is calculated as follows:

Available time

From the 7.5 working hours 30 minutes must be deducted (for breaks).            7 hours = 420 minutes

Customer demand

2100 / 20 = 105 applications per day

 Therefore the takt time calculation is as follows:

420 minutes   =   4 minutes


So if we were processing applications to Takt time, you would expect to see an application being processed every 4 minutes. Running with a Takt time of 4 minutes means that the process is set up to deal with the customer demand as efficiently as possible.

This Is an extract from the book Tools for Success, by Barry Jeffrey and Graham Ross. If you would like to know more why not follow the link



10 skills of a good leader

1.       Workng  with Passion

Most leaders do not really have a passion for the products they produce or for what their organisations really stand for. But you only have to look at leaders like Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Michael Dell to see the power of the passion they all have for their businesses. People within an organisation look to its leadership for direction, belief in the process and guidance. In order to be a good lean leader you need to display passion for what you are doing.

2.       Communicating openly and often

Good leaders convey their belief in the organisation through such actions as attending Kaizen events, visiting customers and opening up direct channels of communication with the workforce. They take time to listen and discuss possible improvements to the process and focus on sending positive messages in a relentless manner

3.       Creating a sense of urgency

In the ever growing global market place and  ever growing threat from competitors, the truth is that no company really needs  to create a sense of urgency. The Job of a good leader is to harness this and  make sure that employees fully understand the gravity of remaining stagnant and  not improving.

4.       Focusing on the Future, not the past

Companies and employees all too often dwell on past failures or rest on past success. A good leader has the ability to look  to the future and begin turning from analysis of the past, to focusing on  finding innovative solutions for customers needs.

5.       Developing good leaders for the future

The ability to take time to find, groom,  train and motivate new leaders for the organisation is a key skill. Thinking to  the future and trengthening the organisation will in the long term underpin  the improvement activities.

6.       Focusing on your customers

Good leaders develop a strong bond with the  customer base. They take time to visit and discuss ideas and issues first hand;  Building up a strong level of trust and teamwork.

7.       Measuring your success

The development of a simple cohesive measurement system that can be easily understood by people in the organisation  at all levels is a core fundamental that a good leader will ensure is  developed. The system must identify metrics that are linked to the strategic goals  and capture the effects of changes to the process. Locally teams must be able  to collect, analyse and develop countermeasures by themselves.

8.       Maintain discipline and focus

After the ‘flavour of the month’ period wears off, employees tend to slip back into old habits all to easily.  Sustaining drive going forward is something a good leader must focus on. Arranging  regular reviews, daily, weekly, and monthly to check the organisations performance in vital to keep the company on track.

9.       Walk the talk

Good leaders to not manage from the office.  They have a high profile in process. Getting involved and demonstrating they  are full committed to the success of the organisation.


10.   Promoting Continuous Improvement daily

Good leaders promote continuous improvement at  every opportunity. They convey the message that every part of a process can be improved, not matter how many times the process has been studied in the past.  Good leaders praise successes whilst demanding further improvements tomorrow.


Kaizentrainer on Linkedin

Did you know that Kaizentrainer has a Linkedin Group ?

Are you a member of the linkedin community ?

if you are, and you are not already a member why not join the group.

The group is dedicated discussing and sharing training materials and ideas and is open to all that have a interest in Lean and continuous Improvement.

Just look for the Kaizentrainer group within Linkedin.

Lean Building Blocks

This is a fun Video explaining Lean through the use of famous building bricks that many of us spent hours with as children.

Lean Learning’s #3 Understanding Value Streams

The ability to produce and interpret Value Stream Maps (VSM’s) is one of the key fundamental Lean tools that any Lean leader of manager should learn.

Let’s look at the use of the Value Stream Mapping tool and how it can help you develop a good strategic plan that will help you both clarify your sequence of activities and the organisation can buy in to.

A value stream is the series of steps both value added and non value added that occur in order that the product or service can be delivered to the customer.

Value streams are normally measured from the point where the customer places and order to the point where the business delivers a product or service to that customer.

Each product or process will have its own value stream since normally the processes, parts, volumes and workforce will vary.

A Value Stream Map is a pictorial representation that looks at all of these issues and assists you in understanding exactly what is going on. Although a Value Stream Map is only a snap in time. It allows you to quantify the actual process and not relay on peoples impressions of where
all the problems lie.  If you were to repeat the Value Stream Mapping exercise on another day, the detail such as the amounts of inventory or the
numbers of quality issues would be different. However in general the Inventory levels, bottle necks and the value add ratio would remain very similar. So do not get bogged down in the very fine detail.

One of the other very important aspects of a VSM is that will help you calculate the ‘Value Added Ratio’. This is a representative ratio of Value Added vs. Non Value Added activities, within the process under investigation.

As a general rule, the process of producing a Value Stream Map is broken down into 7 key stages

  1. Identify the product, product family, or service that is going to be mapped.
  2. Gather together a group of key individuals to work on the map as a team.
  3. Measure the actual state using predefined key metrics. Walk to the  floor and look at the real state, do not use system data.
  4. Using standard symbols, Draw a current state value stream map, which shows the current steps, delays, and information flows required to
    deliver the target product or service.
  5. Assess the current state value stream map. Focus on removing waste, bottleneck processes and think in terms of creating flow.
  6. Brainstorm what would be the ideal state if all the issues were fixed and the team had a clean sheet of paper. Draw this as a future state
    value stream map.
  7. Work toward the future state condition.

This is an extract from ‘Tools for success’by Graham Ross and Barry Jeffrey.  If you would like to know more about Value Stream Mapping and its deployment why not follow the link .

Tools for Success



A nice Ice breaker to start a lean training session

Guess who?

This works well in bigger groups, and also groups that know each other relatively well.

Ask people to write on a single ’post-it’ note, 3 things about themselves that they think nobody else would know.

A twist on this is ask for 2 true and 2 false statement. tell the group to keep the statements secret and do all they can to hide their identity, perhaps disguise their writing.

Give a few minutes then you collect the ‘post-it notes’, mix them up and stick to a wall.

Pick a few and read them out, the group have to collectively decide on who they think it is. If correct the post gets moved to one side, if incorrect remains on the wall. Of course the person who’s ‘post-it’ note is being read out must not give the game away.

The key is – just pick a few at random. You can also save a few for later in the day.

You will find that people will just go and look at the wall during the breaks. Then when you wish to focus the group and the start of the next session simple read a few more out.  Keep returning to the ‘Post-its’ that have not been guessed in order, slowly eliminating them as the group guess the identity of the person who wrote the note. Some times a small prize like a chocolate bar adds an incredible amount of competition !

Some of the answers can be really revealing. I once had a person who did dry stone brick walling as a hobby and even one person who was in the Circus for a short time.



Value Thinking

An important aspect of “Lean Thinking” is the idea of Value.Think about your own workplace for a moment which you toil in everyday.

I’d like to suggest to you that there are only three types of activities that are going on.

1.Value Adding Activities 

These are activities that, as the name suggests, “add value” to our customers. A “value  adding” activity is anything we do to transform materials or information into something that our clients require.

Example of value add
 : A caseworker making a decision based on the information presented to them 

2.Necessary Non Value Adding Activities

A bit of a mouthful this one. Basically a “non value adding” activity is something that consumes resources, does not create any value for the client but is still currently necessary to supply the service.

Example of necessary non value add : A caseworker sending out a letter to a client. If everyone had secure e-mail this could be done electronically (but they don’t at present). 


Waste is any activity that consumes resources, but does not create any value for the client. 

Example of waste : Walking to the other end of the office to get a file 

Now that we have defined the three types of activities that happen in the workplace, I would like you to try this EXPERIMENT.

1. During the day think about all of the activities that take place in your office.
2. Categorise these activities into three list; value add, necessary non value add, and waste.
3. Think about ideas to eliminate the wasteful and necessary non vale adding activities.
4. Implement your ideas.

Hope this helps

Lean Learning’s #2 ‘Cost Of Quality’

The term ‘Cost of Quality’ is very widely used and widely misunderstood in within many companies.

The ‘Cost of Quality’ is not the price of creating a Quality product or service. The true ‘Cost of Quality’ is the cost of NOT creating a Quality  product or service.

A lot of companies do not fully understand the effect that a poor Quality process has on the business. Poor Quality not only affects customers, it also has a dramatic effect on lead times, delivery, and most importantly profitability.

Consider that every time rework is undertaken, the cost of Quality increases. Obvious examples include:

•  The correction of a bank statement

•  The reprinting of a lost document

•  The reworking of a manufactured item

•  The retesting of an assembly

•  The replacement of a over cooked meal in a restaurant

These costs would not have been incurred if Quality were perfect. In order to fully understand this concept, consider the costs that would be eliminated if Quality within the process was perfect.  Consider costs such as: incoming raw material inspection; corrective engineering change orders, scrap, in-process control systems, downtime, material and labour rework charges, Quality personnel labour costs, field service repair personnel, returned goods processing, customer warranty claims and many others.

These are all costly processes and consume resources and time. They are normally considered necessary non value added steps. In other words, they cannot be eliminated because of significant risk to the customer.

Calculating the Total Cost of Quality.

In order to calculate the Total Cost of Quality the cost of the following operations need to be considered:

•   Prevention

•   Inspection

•   Internal Failure

•   External Failure

The overall Cost of Quality (COQ) is calculated using the following equation:

COQ = Prevention  Costs + Inspection Costs + Failure Costs

Prevention Costs

Prevention Costs are defined as all activities which have been designed into the process to specifically prevent poor Quality in products or services. Examples of these costs include:

•             New product development reviews

•             Supplier development work including capability surveys

•             Internal process capability development and  evaluations

•             Quality planning activities

•             Quality improvement team meetings

•             Quality education and training

Inspection Costs

Costs are defined as all activities associated with measuring, evaluating or auditing products or services to assure conformance to Quality standards and performance requirements.

Examples of these costs include:

•             Incoming and source inspection and testing of purchased material

•             In-process inspection processes

•             Final inspection and test

•             Internal audits

•             Maintaining of records

•             Calibration of measuring and test equipment

•             Purchase of associated equipment, supplies and materials

Failure Costs

Failure costs fall into two clear categories, Internal and External failure.

 Internal Failure Costs

Internal failure costs are the costs that occur prior to delivery of a product or service to the customer. Examples of these costs include:

•             Rework

•             Re-inspection

•             Retesting

•             Scrap costs

External Failure Costs

External Failure costs occur after delivery of the product or service to the customer. Examples of these costs include:

•             Processing Customer returns

•             Rework under Warranty claims

•             Processing customer complaints

•             Replacing the product

•             Product recalls

By far the most expensive of all these categories is failure. Both internal and external failures. The cost of the original product, the cost of the replacement, the cost of processing, can cost up to three times the cost of the original product or service.

This is an extract from Practical Quality by Graham Ross and Barry Jeffrey. If you would like to know more why not follow the link