I was in a local restaurant the other day looking at the way the waiters went about their tasks. It soon became obvious that some were more efficient that others. Some had time to chat to the guests, while others appeared to be rushing around. I looked at the number of guests and tables they were serving. That appeared to be in balance. I looked at the various stages the meals were at, again all appeared to be reasonably balanced.
The difference was really was quite simple, some waiters were optimising their movements. Every Time they returned to the kitchen, they would clear a table, or at least not return empty handed. The ones that were running around did not. They were having to make twice as many journeys. One to being food out to the guests and a second process to clear plates. Simple.
So in this case improvement is a simple matter of a little training, yet why had it not been spotted and the waiters retrained?
I think the answer is that we get blind to what we do as we go about familiar tasks. Sometimes it makes sense to stop, watch and understand what is going on.
Supervisors and managers in particular need to make time to observe day to day activities and reflect on simple improvements that can be made. This type of improvement activity costs little, but done on a regular basis can overtime significantly improve processes.
Try it. Watch a familiar day to day process and see what you can see.
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
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!
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
- Identify the product, product family, or service that is going to be mapped.
- Gather together a group of key individuals to work on the map as a team.
- Measure the actual state using predefined key metrics. Walk to the floor and look at the real state, do not use system data.
- 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.
- Assess the current state value stream map. Focus on removing waste, bottleneck processes and think in terms of creating flow.
- 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.
- 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 .