I assume readers are aware about 5S. The 5S are a methodology when beginners discover them through a structured way of teaching. They hopefully turn into an approach for organizing the workplace, and eventually a philosophy for those embracing the 5S principles for guiding their personal behaviors.
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Here are 5 things to remember about 5S:
1 – 5S look easy but aren’t
5S look disappointingly simple. The traditional learning way takes the beginners through a 5-step implementation program, usually one step at a time.
This tutored and hands-on journey makes the 5S look really simple and that’s a good thing. Yet 5S’ difficulty is nothing technical nor about the principles (“all common sense”), but about getting people to think and behave differently. This is about change management.
2 – 5S are too important to be delegated to interns
If you agree with point number 1 and on the importance of 5S as a necessary foundation to build operational excellence, then you cannot delegate the 5S rollout to someone who is not fully part of the organization and not having the required authority nor leadership. Considering 5S as a secondary chore and delegating it to an intern is one common management mistake about 5S.
3 – Forget about Return On Investment
5S are a basic Necessary Condition for providing an efficient and safe workplace, and from then on developing operational excellence. As such, 5S are not rolled out in search for ROI. The gains, hence ROI is pretty difficult to evaluate. How to valuate 20 square meters of warehouse freed from clutter or a better looking, clean and stainless workshop?
If the decision to go for 5S is a matter of ROI, this choice is as meaningful as deciding the ROI of brushing teeth or showering is worth it. By the way, 5S are considered a kind of “industrial hygiene”.
4 – You’ll be never done with 5S
Even an organization managed to have a full cycle of the 5S completed, it can’t claim it’s done. 5S are simply never-ending. First because it is so easy to slip back to old behaviors, to take it easy on discipline. Second because the conditions change over time and 5S rules and practices have to be adjusted. Newcomers may join and have to embrace 5S as well. They have to be trained, mentored and maybe they’ll bring in new ideas worth implementing.
5 – 5S is not about housekeeping
This is a common misconception about 5S: it’s not about housekeeping, constantly scrubbing and cleaning. 5S is about avoiding to clean and scrub, about getting smart and avoid spilling dirt and creating mess. Even cleaning and scrubbing might be necessary at the beginning, it is advised to find ways to avoid it quick because nobody likes those chores. So 5S is not about housekeeping, 5S are continuous improvement.