Five Ways to Jump Start Your 5S Program for 2010

January 1, 2010

Since this is my first blog posting, I wanted to make sure to start this year off with something relevant and hopefully helpful. So here’s a quick list to get your 5S program moving on the right track for 2010. Whether you are beginning a 5S program or have a mature approach, these ideas will give your 5S system that little extra boost. This list is not all inclusive, but is meant to give you ideas to assist you as you start the New Year.

“People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”

It is advisable to make sure that you have a well thought out plan for your 5S program this year. Going through the process will help you better prepare for improvement. Your plan can be as simple as a calendar marked with the dates of 5S Events, audits or even when you are going to disposition the 5S Red Tag Holding Area. A more developed plan may include your training schedule, communication channels and even your Reward & Recognition ideas. They key is to make the plan fit your organization. The better you plan, the better your results will be.

Think of ways you can help promote your 5S program and build on the 5th S – “Sustain”. Promoting your 5S program can include newsletters, posters, short meetings, and even contests. One of the best 5S contests I ever heard of was where the winners had their cars washed by the top management. People were really working hard to receive top honors just to see management out in the parking lot hand washing their cars. A short newsletter is a great way to help promote your 5S program. You can talk about what’s going on, upcoming events, audit scores, improvement ideas and more. It seems to work best if it is kept short. One or two pages may suffice; something that is easily read during a break. Keeping it short also means you don’t have to spend much time working on it. Don’t forget to put in pictures and you might want to mention people in the newsletter. They might like seeing their name in print. Print it out in color and make it look good. To make this much easier here are some free 5S Newsletter templates you can use.

Making sure you have what you need is essential to a well run 5S program. This comes in two forms: 1) having the correct items on hand for your 5S events, and 2) keeping consumable items at hand and ready to go after the event. To accomplish the first one, I recommend that you have a standardized 5S kit or cart. Stock it with the items you use most often during 5S events. This makes it much easier to prepare for the events and you don’t waste your time looking for things. The second item includes having 5S Red Tags out and available to everyone so that they can red tag anytime they want.

Lead by example. It seems hypocritical to ask people to keep their areas clear, organized, and clean when your desk, cube or office is not. Make sure you are leading the way. Get people involved with the 5S Events or sustaining the gains. A quick way to get people involved is a “5S Sustain Campaign” board. This board lists each of the 5S’s (Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain), has a place for team members names to be assigned and a task to be performed. Examples of the tasks include:

• Sort – “Perform a 5S Red Tagging of the Area”
• Set-in-order – “Check Labels for continuing suitability”
• Shine – “Verify that Shine was performed properly”
• Standardize – “Perform a 5S audit of the area
• Sustain – “Host a short team meeting on 5S updates”

Get people on board with your 5S program. Put yourself in their shoes – WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). 5S isn’t meant to be a punishment; make it fun. Use Reward & Recognition to help get people energized about 5S. Find the kingpin, key players, influencers or most respected people in your organization and get them directly involved with 5S. Once other people see that they are involved (and like it!) it makes it easier to get other people involved. Another way to Reward & Recognize employees, teams or groups is to give them items like a 5S t-shirt, mug or hat. This will help keep 5S in front of them. I had one client say that he always wore his 5S t-shirt on Tuesdays and employees would ask him how they could get one. This really helped get more people involved with their 5S program.

When I started this list I didn’t mean for it to have all “P” words as the descriptions, it just turned out that way. Please don’t think I am trying to start a 5P movement! I hope you found this helpful and a jumping off point for your 5S program for 2010. Stay tuned for future posts with useful and helpful information.

Thanks – Tony

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