By Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant
When working with a customer recently on 5S, they asked about taking the next steps after successfully completing 3S’s (Sort, Set-in-order & Shine) for the first time. In their eyes, all they needed to do was write up the standards on what to keep, where to keep it and how often to clean and that was job done. As I explained, the write up of such standards is very important but how were they to sustain, and even improve, these standards?
I explained my perspective to this customer, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a crucial element of sustaining all improvements. We must plan the physical changes and plan the documentation changes, just as they had, and then execute these plans. They had executed the physical changes and had yet to complete the documentation changes required for their first cycle of 5S. But once they have these documents, is that the end? Not when using Plan-Do-Check-Act, the Check-Act part requires us to review the results achieved from executing our plans and then act to attain more results, including better standards and better adherence to standards.
This had not been their perspective, but they were convinced once we discussed their next continuous improvement strategies. 5S has one of the best return-on-investments of any improvement strategy. This is in part due to its very simple conceptual model. This model can be applied to any area, real or virtual (such as when applying to IT systems rather than work places). The power of 5S is that you can continue to improve results without increasing the complexity of the model, no further training, nor confusion over tools, but merely focusing on more detail within the area.
The next steps for the customer related to fully integrating the changes across their 3 shifts. The people involved in the changes were from a single shift and whilst they had committed to the changes made, both physically and via the upcoming documentation, what about those with less involvement? Check-Act gave an opportunity for them to become involved, the next cycle could build upon the areas where they continued to have ambiguous or missing standards. This is what Standardise and Sustain is all about. We must create a baseline for further improvement.
They were persuaded that reviewing the standards was not failure but in fact part of the process. This change in perspective allowed the truth on some of the short-cuts taken to come out. The consultation method on items locations, which we had agreed before executing the plan, had not been as thoroughly used as they would have been preferred. They also noted that there was much that could still be found around the entire area to improve.
My customer is now excited that Standardising allows them this baseline to move forward and that Sustaining is all about supporting the next cycle of Sort, Set-in-order & Shine by capturing enthusing the teams to use and report their finding every day on the standards in their area. This data can came via audits or using people’s experience written onto Team Boards. Each team can find ways to improve the standards they use every day once Plan-Do-Check-Act is embraced.
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