Lean Tools: 5S, Sustain, and Crowning a Champion

Posted on February 28, 2012 | in 5S, Lean Tools, Standardized Work | by

5s sustain

(The first four sections about 5S with links are Sort, Set In Order, Shine, and Standardize.)

WWE heavyweight wrestling champions aren’t crowned because they beat one opponent. They earn the belt by winning and climbing the ranks, taking on all comers and knocking them off. It takes years of training, matchups, fan interest (no one gets excited about indifferent, uncharismatic wrestlers), breaking down barriers, and hardly taking a day off.

You say WWE wrestling is fake, that the matches are staged? Okay, sure, but you never see a little skinny guy winning the heavyweight belt or a big out-of-shape dude taking down the reigning champ. John Cena is no scrub. He also didn’t get there overnight.

As previously indicated, the first three steps of 5S are really just isolated incidents where a work cell is clean, uncluttered, and properly laid out at a single point in time by one team. The fourth step is about standardizing across multiple shifts or teams using the work cell.

The fifth step is the hardest of all – sustaining over extended periods of time and making sure the work cell remains clean, uncluttered, and properly laid out. To win at 5S, you have to put in the time to do things right, to make improvements, to streamline and do it faster. When wrestlers train for long periods of time, they get faster, leaner, and stronger. They improve. So do you.

So how do you sustain 5S, other than simply putting in the time? You have to put in time correctly.

As shared in the standardize post, communication to other teams via organizational and cleanliness standards help to keep areas optimized. Management and team leaders must continuously audit to those standards and hold violators accountable. Self-discipline must be instilled in the workforce – not only demonstrate that 5S is here to stay, but also make it clear that 5S makes everyone’s performance better.

But beyond that, what will motivate employees to continue to sustain? Here are a couple thoughts.

First, 5S will continue to evolve the workplace, so it’s important to implement changes that improve the work space. When employees come up with new ideas to do 5S better, faster, and more efficiently, take those ideas seriously and look to implement. Maybe some work space tools become obsolete – make changes accordingly to consistently maintain the right tools in the area and the wrong tools out. Maybe machines produce products faster and more space for finished goods is required. Implement changes as needed. Not only does this keep the work area consistent with changing business conditions, but it also instills a feeling of ownership and connection between the operators and the work cell. This creates pride AND self-discipline. No one wants to do a poor job.

And second…motivate through rewards. While financial rewards for successful maintenance of a 5S work space can get employees engaged, it also sets a poor precedent – should all implemented ideas come with a cash reward? This detracts from the idea of self-discipline and area ownership – operators become accustomed to motivation via prizes as opposed to pride. What I’ve seen that works best is a traveling trophy for work spaces that have maintained 5S the best – either through the best audit score, biggest audit score jump, or best idea for a new improvement.

An idea I implemented a few years ago incorporated the main metaphor for this post – instead of using a traveling trophy made of acrylic on a wooden stand, I used a toy WWE wrestling championship belt that was passed from place to place. It’s very clear to everyone what it symbolizes – being the reigning champion. Can an acrylic trophy do that?

A fun, desirable trophy that calls you a champion – how’s that for motivation?

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2 Responses to “Lean Tools: 5S, Sustain, and Crowning a Champion”

  1. Pingback: Punxsutawney Phil and Measuring the Wrong Things | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

  2. Pingback: Lean or Sushi?? | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

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