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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