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