“Five S” misused

The lean tool, 5s, is often a starting point for lean implementation. It makes sense, as on the surface, it is relatively easy, “straighten, sweep, set, standardise, and sustain”, but it is this last bit that catches people out.

A clean, tidy workplace with everything in its marked place is great, a good start, but in itself, it is a bit like having your 15 year old son clean his room, looks nice, but doesn’t  necessarily convert him from computer games to his poetry homework.

A lean implementation is hard, detailed, collaborative work requiring time, commitment and leadership, if it is to make an impact on work flow, changeover times, preventive maintanence programs, inventory management, safety, and all the other things that go to make up a lean workplace. Unfortunately, it cannot be sufficiently simplified to make any PowerPoint presentation any more than a superficial representation, an awareness builder. 

So next time someone pulls out a slick presentation designed to part you from your money, consider the  real work that needs to be done, and dismiss the hyperbole for what it is, hyperbole. You need to be prepared to knuckle down to some hard work to get anything useful and sustainable done, or just leave it all alone, save yourself some money and sweat, and just continue to bumble along.   

About strategyaudit

StrategyAudit is a boutique strategy and marketing consultancy concentrating on the challenges of the medium sized manufacturing businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. The particular focus is on their strategic and marketing development. as well as the business and operational efficiency improvements necessary for day to day commercial survival. We not only give advice, we go down "into the weeds" to ensure and enable implementation.
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2 Responses to “Five S” misused

  1. Allen says:

    Alex,
    I suggest the Lean Business Systems group on Linkedin, run by proff. Peter Hines, who I have met, and who has done some terrific stuff in the UK. I have just joined the group.
    Allen

  2. Alex Lester says:

    Could not agree more. 5S is the basis of Lean along with Standardised work and work flows.

    Unfortunaly most managers and front line operators see 5S as just a housekeeping program. Rather than a productivity improvement strategy and therefore foundations of much more.

    I can certainly vouch for 5S done correctly but Like the author suggests if you are not serious about it or just do not get it save the anxiety and do not start 5S or Lean.

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