Fourteen Tips to Help You Sustain 5S
In this short article I want to share with you fourteen top tips that I
use with clients like you, to help
make your 5S Workplace Organisation efforts sticky.
I love the 5S technique.
It is one of my favourite Continuous Improvement
Because it raises everyone game.
I always use the analogy of a Company stuck on the motorway looking for
to fix their punctured tyre compared to a Formula One racing team doing a pit stop.
Most Organisations that are not aware of the 5S technique are sad
places to visit.
You can visibly see people struggling to do their jobs (looking for the
Leadership charge around like headless chickens with a "fire extinguisher" in
and a "faulty piece of work" in the other (usually deciding if the product or information
is ok to send out this week. It wasn't last week , but there is a far greater volume this
week, so the decision will probably have to be different...)
The Seven Classic Wastes are alive and well.
It's fantastic for Continuous Improvement Trainers like me. Lots of quick
fixes to show clients
and become a hero overnight.
Not so great if you have to work there every
Stress, frustration, poor productivity, terrible quality, more stress,
lack of team work,
and did I mention stress......
5S if implemented well and sustained can resolve 80% of these
Did you see what I did there? I mentioned the word sustained to introduce
main theme of this article.
The Fifth S sustain.
Just a quick reminder of the 5S:
Imagine if 5S was the name of a pop band. (These days it probably
In many respects the fifth S is the member of the pop band that doesn't often
get a mention
but their contribution is fundamental to a successful long career at the top of the hit
Sort and Straighten , the front singers, get all the media attention
and hype. They are always
adored by 5S fans. You know,
getting out there, sticking on a few red tags and then moving a
few things about . Very full on, very sexy and you can go home and tell your family how you
transformed the department today. Oh and you made a thing called a shadow board.
But ladies and gentlemen, then what.
Very often. Not much more. After a few sales of your debut album "Sort
and Straighten" 5S,the
band seem to have come out of the spotlight .They try the inevitable "Sort and Straighten-
This leads to a few more sales , but quickly they find both albums
appearing in "Pound Shops" up
and down the country in buy one get the other one free section (That's only 50p per
The other members of the band, scrub and systems are important and also
But today I want to focus on the drummer
"You gotta keep banging that drum to sustain the 5S
That's a lyric from the new charity record that 5S have produced (all
to a good cause) to try and re-grab some media attention and get their career back on
So here are my 14 tips ( in no particular
order) to ensure that the fifth S , Sustain is alive and well
and that our 5S efforts have longevity and substance.
Physically Make a Difference
If you can make an obvious physical improvement in an area then it
go a long way to making the changes stick. Things work best when you go narrow
and deep. It is not about tidiness but organisation and systems. For each
should visually indicate what it is, where it goes and how much there should be of
Do Not Allow Squatters
When space is made available as a result of
improvement activity, mark it off
and reserve it for a future activity. Advertise the fact and get the area on a
an office or plant drawing. Physically label the area with something like. This area
is reserved for "Project X" and is not to be used. If you do not do this then the
squatters will quickly move in and your efforts will have been in vain. Clutter and
seem to be a magnet for free space unless it is made obvious that it is not to be used.
Make People Accountable
Build 5S activity into your strategic plan and make all personnel have an
of 5S in their individual annual goals, that are reviewed on a regular basis as part of
their overall performance.
Make Aaabbbabnormality Jump Out at You
Try to make abnormality very obvious in the workplace. Don't hide issues
make them scream at you, if something is wrong when you walk into an area.
You should be able to work out how things are going using visual control within
30 seconds of entering a department. Is the work flowing? Are their any errors?
Is all equipment where it should be? You should be able to answer all of these
questions without talking to anyone but just using your eyes.
Take every opportunity to promote the 5S, but avoid wall paper.
Using a Continuous
Improvement Board can be a great way to show progress. Use before and after pictures
to show the positive changes that have been made. Position the board in an area that
everyone can see it. This can be a great asset when visitors come to the
or plant. As long as it is fresh, accurate and up to date. If not it is far worse than having
no promotional material at all. You know the score. Last updated in 2002 syndrome...
Look and is awful..
Connect 5S to the Bottom Line Results
Make direct connections between 5S activities and business
Inventory Reduction and the money saved
Less space required for the same or better productivity
Improved Quality with fewer errors because of improved sequencing
Apply 5S Everywhere
5S needs to be applied to all areas of the office and plant.
It needs to become part of
the culture and normal daily routine. If you ever have to say the words "We need
have a tidy up because we have important visitors coming next week...." then
you still have a long way to go in terms of 5S and Continuous Improvement
Run Occasional Site Wide Red Tag Events
An occasional site wide red tag event can be a very
powerful tool to promote 5S and
get a sense of common purpose and standards between areas. This approach works
really well maybe one or two times a year and can create a bit of a collective
Follow Through on the Simple Things
These are often the ones that get missed but can have the biggest impact
terms of commitment and perception. It can be as simple as a cracked window
or a worn, faded sign. It is a bit like if the seat belts are frayed on an aircraft
start to worry about the state of the engines!
Use Mini Kaizen Events
Taking 4-6 people out of the normal operation for one or two days to conduct
activity can have a dramatic impact on performance. The secret is again narrow
and deep and doing things professionally.
Use Audits to Create Action
Regular audits are probably the best way to sustain
the gains.Calibrate scores between different areas to create an
Regular reviews using a few red tags and visual sweep will establish further improvements
where the current standards are falling short of what is required
.Each audit should result in a go forward action plan
If you don't audit and take action then the 5S will quickly fall into
The results and action plan should
be visually displayed in a user friendly format on the Continuous Improvement
Use Visual Control Whenever Possible
By keeping things simple and visual there is more chance of
them being effective.
Don't Allow Broken Fences
Decline happens faster than progress when issues are not
and video footage can be useful reminders of how things used to be if things start to
slip. "We don't want to go back to this do we......"
Create Day One Standards
Build in 5S on all new projects and new processes from day
one as part of standard
work. Start of as you mean to go on.
If you would like to find out about my one day, team based 5S
please contact me for pricing and
You will be amazed what can be achieved in one day
with the correct facilitation
and expert training.
Hope this helps.
Other related content on the web:
Manufacturing Times Blog » Blog
Archive » Sustaining 5S - Most companies don't find it too difficult to implement the first three stages of
5S / workplace organisation, but many find it hard to sustain and improve once the initial energy has
dissipated. I recently heard one plant manager joke ...
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