Lean = 5S, again.

It happened again, I have met one more Lean Manager explaining that he/she was appointed to this position to manage a Lean program rollout, and this Lean program is essentially reinvigorating 5S.

There has been a real inflation of Lean Managers in France lately. With so many of them flowing into the companies, France’s world of business should soon become benchmark of Lean!

Yet competitors don’t need to worry. Most of these Lean Managers are rookies acting as PMOs for 5S programs at best.

I probed my latest Lean Manager while touring the shop floor and was surprised how many non-5S situations were simply not noticed. And he/she was allegedly a Black Belt, supposed to be an elite waste fighter, reinforcing my low opinion about any Lean belt system.

Being in charge of the 5S program, I was explained, is making sure that the periodic 5S audits are done, the results recorded and scores displayed. While the company is bleeding to potential death from a thousand cuts, the Lean Manager is keeping score of 5S audits. Really worth paying one!

At the time I am writing these sarcastic lines, my French personal website celebrates its 20th anniversary. 20 years of sharing free online resources on Lean Thinking, Lean tools, methods and more. I should have limited it to the 5S pages and gone fishing.

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

7 thoughts on “Lean = 5S, again.

  1. Unfortunately what you wrote is true in most cases… 5 S is merely considered a tool for area identification and floor marking… Based on my experience, people always brag about “knowing and mastering” 5S and having “led” 5S workshops multiple times… Yes, by simply walking in the halls, you can see the lines bleeding wastes and losses…
    Managers are always focucing on raising 5S audits scores… but how reliable are those scores?
    I believe i read once that the kaisen institute is working on a KPI to assess companies alignment with 5S ( some sort of an international recognized certification, could that be a lead toward a solution?
    I see that 5 as is one of the most important tools yet one of the most underrated ones as well…


  2. Interesting discussion. I’m sure most course providers would not assume Lean = 5S. You may be creating a “straw man” in order to burn as an opinion.
    5S should be seen as part of a set of tools that a lean practitioner uses within an holistic lean initiative.
    Most operators on the shopfloor that first encounter “lean” require simple low hanging fruits in order to start to see the value and benefits of their interaction with the methodology.
    Thank you for the blog Chris!


      • Thanks Chris,

        I forwarded to our webmaster.

        Can you see the article and the links to other articles in the series?


        On Fri., Apr. 19, 2019, 10:55 a.m. Chris HOHMANN, wrote:

        > Chris Hohmann commented: “Thank you for sharing Shamir. May I suggest you > check your pages, I’ve experienced display issues and dead links while > paying a quick visit.” >


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