The Quick Beginner’s Guide to 5S – Shitsuke

Shitsuke is the fifth and last of the 5S list. Usually transliterated into “discipline” or “sustain” while my tiny japanese dictionary (souvenir from my time there) says “education”. Shitsuke is all about this: educating people in order to maintain new 5S standards and to self-discipline everybody.

Education, some may call it coaching or practising kata, is having an authority checking the compliance to 5S rules and principles and giving feedback to the people concerned. This feedback can be only scoring and commenting or taking the opportunity of deviations and poor scores to reinforce the 5S through some teaching points.

Shitsuke is often related to so-called 5S audits, 5S patrols or whatever they are called. It’s the way generally used to assess the 5S compliance and highlight the deviations. Actions are required to close the gap.

This education is (has to be?) relatively directive and needs to be reinforced by management before 5S eventually get into the culture and become part of natural behavior. Just as for children education, the initial discipline has to be imposed until it is fully understood and accepted and finally embedded in one’s self-discipline.

Yet maintaining the state defined by rules and initial 5S activities would just freeze it as it is. Shitsuke in the sense of sustaining is also about continuous improvement or sustaining the 5S efforts.

After an initial sorting, arranging or cleaning, more can be done to continue improving the workplace condition, safety and neatness. Besides, chances are that conditions will change over time, questioning the initial standards.

Cleaning is no fun, it’s better to prevent the necessity of cleaning by tackling the problem at its source: how can we improve in order to reduce or even eliminate the necessity for cleaning?

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How Goal Tree Can Keep You from Failing Projects


Chris HOHMANN – Author

For those following me on this blog or who went through some of the pages here know I am a big fan of Goal Trees.

In this post, I explain how a Goal Tree can keep a project from failing.

A Goal Tree is a Logical Thinking Process tool used to structure everything that is required to achieve a Goal.

>Read more about Goal Trees

The project I am reporting about is a tiny but important one. It will earn the company a fair share of additional output, hence net profit, provided the project is carried out properly. It is about getting an expensive spare piece of equipment that can be setup in masked time before a line changeover, and drastically reduce the changeover duration.

For confidentiality reasons I cannot be too specific about this case.

The lines changeover duration will effectively be reduced if the whole exchange process, including preparation of the parts for the new series going in and stripping and refurbishing parts of the outgoing series is well-managed.

So the project is not only about purchasing the piece of equipment, but about the whole management process including maintaining, storing, preparing, striping… of this piece of equipment.

The difficulty with this project is about knowledge and experience. The people involved have only partial knowledge of the actual process, without the spare parts. The challenge is to build a complete and robust system* which will work right first time, without the flaws and limitations of the actual system*.

*system here everything including material, organisation, process, instructions…

How to make sure everything needed is taken into account without spending more money than strictly necessary? How to ensure to meet quality standards with a solution that will not overburden the shop floor teams?

And this is where I pulled the Goal Tree in.

What most of the people do at this stage is writing down lists of hardware and requirements they know or think about. They do it partly based on their experience (if they have any) and partly with common sense analysis. They may ask experienced operators, but this is by no means not systematic.

Anyway, however the project is started, it is usually without a formal approach for making sure everything is taken into account.

Some will propose a brainstorming, which is a bit of a misnomer in this case. Brainstorming is a creativity technique used to surface lots of new ideas in order to come up with something original, or in a case like ours, a breakthrough.

In our project we weren’t looking for new ideas nor a lot of them; we knew what had to be done and how it had to be done. What we were looking for was to ensure we got everything required in order for our solution to be complete and robust.

This is where the Goal Tree comes in

The Goal Tree is based on so-called necessity logic, in which the elements of the Tree connect to each other with a logical “necessity” relationship in the form of “in order to…we need/must have…”. It starts with the Goal stated on top of the Tree: what do we want to achieve?

This Goal has to be stated in a way to be specific enough. I our case, the Goal was stated: “Ensure the change parts are available and ready for use whenever they are needed”.

It sounds pretty vague as a goal, yet as we worked out all Necessary Conditions (NCs) to achieve it, this statement proved itself being sufficient.

Underneath this Goal we need very few Critical Success Factors (CSFs), necessary to fulfil the Goal and to monitor the progress towards it.

We selected three CSFs covering:

  1. parts management system
  2. the storage of parts between use
  3. transportation of parts to and from point of use

Each of these CSFs can be assessed through a KPI or a set of indicators, which is important in order to monitor the achievement towards the Goal.

Each CSF is then checked for its Necessary Conditions (NCs) using the necessity logic question. These NCs themselves having their own NCs and so on down to the bottom of the Tree.

Goal Tree

Once the Tree was completed, a scrutinizing check was done with people who didn’t participate in building the Tree. Additional NCs came up and new branches were added.

Finally, the Tree was assumed to be complete and all necessary twenty-four actions captured in an action plan.

The 24 actions (e.g. Necessary Conditions) are to be compared to less than a dozen actions initially listed without the Goal Tree. This shows how incomplete a non structured, not backed up by an appropriate tool, action listing can be.

As the additional actions are all Necessary Conditions (read critical to Goal achievement), or at least related to NCs, the project would most probably have suffered some unexpected problems or even failed. And this is only a tiny project requiring less than 30 actions, so imagine how a non-structured approach to bigger project can end.

Conversely, a Goal Tree is build on pure logic and is much more likely to grant a complete and  robust list of tasks, especially when reviewed by someone experienced in scrutinizing and challenging Goal Trees.

What I really love with Goal Trees is the prevention of “nice-to-haves”, as anything not complying with the necessity logic is… not necessary, by definition.

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A perfect world is a lovely place


Chris HOHMANN – Author

It happened during a project review meeting during which we went through the planned action sequences. A new late comer to the project raised a few questions and suggested some additions and changes to the action plan.

>lisez cet article en français

One of the participants, visibly irritated by the new entrant and his interventions, snapped back: “A perfect world is a lovely place, but we need to focus on our goal without seeking perfection.”

He was referring to the constraints and difficulties limiting our possibilities and options and obviously trying to silence the newcomer.

As moderator of this meeting I calmly explained that at this stage of the project, any suggestion that contributes to its robustness is welcome. Furthermore, a description of perfection is always interesting.

Indeed, the ideal or perfect solution may be out of reach for the moment, but this does not mean that all options must be rejected. An evolution of the strategy, economic conditions, regulatory, state of mind of the decision makers or technology can reshuffle the cards and open the field of possibilities.

In such a case, having a complete description of an ideal future state can be a big time saver. In addition, the ideal solution is a reservoir of ideas for future improvement and it makes sense to revisit these options periodically. One or the other constraints could disappear and new options become possible.

Generally speaking, an ideal future state can always be degraded by incorporating the various constraints, but building a solution around existing constraints without exploring breakthrough alternatives typically falls within the 8th type of Lean waste: not using people’s creativity.

The meeting resumed in a little tense atmosphere due to the enmity between the two individuals, but with the new suggestions taken into account.

When it comes to Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and sketching the future improved state (Value Stream Design or VSD), the above explanation applies perfectly.

It makes sense to study the ideal target first and then to degrade it by integrating the different constraints that may not be eliminated or bypassed in reasonable time or cost.

Those readers familiar with the Thinking Processes of the Theory of Constraints certainly try to challenge the reality of the constraints with specific tools like the Current Reality Tree (CRT) and the Conflict Resolution Diagram (CRD, aka Evaporating Cloud).

At the time of this meeting, I used a Goal Tree previously built with the participants but couldn’t investigate and challenge the constraints.
It is very likely that among the listed constraints, some are more a matter of beliefs, myths and misunderstandings or misinterpretations than real constraints.

If these false constraints can be surfaced and eliminated, the solution will certainly be better and it will prove the value of exploring the ideal state before giving up too soon.

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Thinking Processes – Future Reality Tree


Chris HOHMANN – Author

A Future Reality Tree (FRT), as the name suggests is a visualization of a desired, improved future state. It answers the question “What to change?” Or “change to what?”. The Future Reality Tree is one of the Thinking Processes or Thinking Process tools.

A FRT usually follows an analysis with a Current Reality Tree (CRT) and an Evaporating Cloud (EC), also known as Conflict Resolution Diagram (CRD), the latter is not systematic.

Thus the FRT turns the Undesirable Effects (UDEs) identified with the CRT into Desirable Effects (DEs) by combining the real causes of UDEs with injections, which are entities (actions or conditions) that do not yet exist, but which are necessary to correct the current state, turning it into desirable future condition or target.

Injections are a cure to Undesirable Effects when combined to the cause of UDEs. Injections are always entry points (they do not have a cause) and are distinguished from others entities by their square corners.

A FRT is recognizable by the basic structure of a cause AND an injection linking to a Desirable Effect. In the example below (French) the injections are lined in blue in order to highlight them. Numbered entities are UDEs from the Current Reality Tree.

In this FRT, two injections create positive reinforcement loops (right side).

A Future Reality Tree depicts the could-be future, but does not give all the answers about how to get there, how to close the gap between the Current Reality and the Future Reality. Therefore, two more tools or processes are provided: the Prerequisite Tree (PRT) and Transition Tree (TT).


  • Fedurko, Jelena (2011) Behind the Cloud, enhancing logical thinking, TOC strategic solutions
  • Dettmer, H. W., (1997) Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints: a systems approach to continuous improvement. ASQC Quality Press
  • Scheinkopf, L., (1999) Thinking for a change: putting the TOC thinking processes to use. St Lucie Press/APICS

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The Quick Beginner’s Guide to 5S – Seiketsu, Standardizing


Chris HOHMANN – Author

Seiketsu is the fourth S of the series of five and comes logically after Sorting out, Set in order and Sweeping. The first three S reset an environment suitable for safe and efficient work, the fourth S then sets standards so to keep these good condition and practices in the work area.

Without appropriate standard the situation would slip right back and old habits would return.

Seiketsu aims to maintain high standards of housekeeping and workplace organization at all times, by everybody. Standard should also be understood as a set of rules defined for harmonious living / working together.

Standards must make deviations visible, that’s why visual management is often used. If all tools must be return to the tool board by the end of the day, a shadow board will make it easier to spot the missing tools.

The equivalent exists in office: in order to ensure using the up-to-date documents, only one controlled copy is allowed in the office. These documents are shared and must be returned to the shelf immediately after use. The slant line across files helps to see the missing or misplaced files from distance.

The daily cleaning of the workplace by people themselves is a matter of respect to themselves, to their colleagues, a way to keep the place tidy and orderly. But daily cleaning of a machine is also a way to inspect it (see this post for more details).

The daily cleaning as well as the 5S standards at large are usually associated to industrial hygiene.

Standardizing can be about using only one single tool for all adjustments, which needs all tightenings being unified.

These rules are defined by the stakeholders themselves within certain limits such as safety, security rules, quality or any regulatory or formal standards.

Giving the opportunity to stakeholders to define their standard helps overcome resistance to change and fosters commitment to these self-edicted rules.

Standards are meant to be revised, better rules, better standards may surface after certain time. Seiketsu is by no means freezing one standard, but encouraging improvement to better, higher standards.

<Previous: Seiso or Sweep, Shine, scrub >Next: Shitsuke

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