5S in Wall Street Journal

5S has made it into the mainstream media. An article by Julie Jargon gives a brief overview of 5S at Kyocera's North American headquarters, particularly in the office environment.

I don't know if I should be impressed that 5S is in the most prominent business newspaper in the world, or appalled at the superficial nature of the article. I know the mainstream press is in the business of providing something digestible to its readers, but I just can't take this:

"Companies..., are patrolling to make sure that workers don't, for example, put knickknacks on file cabinets."

"Sweaters can't hang on the backs of chairs, personal items can't be stowed beneath desks and the only decorations on cabinets are official company plaques or certificates."

Here we get an example exchange from the mainstream 5S audit:

"when he got to the accounting department, he discovered a hook on a door and told cash management assitant Deanna Svehla that doors are supposed to be free of such accoutermants. 'But that's where I hang the Christmas decorations,' she said"

"C'mon like there aren't plenty of places to put decorations, " he said, nodding at the orange and black Halloween tinsel strung along the outside of her cubicle. That's OK, it turns out, because it isn't permanent."

The 5S Nazi also noticed a "whale figurine in Ms. Svehla's cubicle and decided to let it go." How considerate of him!

Of course, our current management theory of setting expectations and doling out accountability is enforced through compliance. The main Kyocera office has a compliance score of 88.9%. My guess is that this number doesn't reflect the level of management support and direction given to the program, but rather the number of findings in the workers' areas. By focusing on items as targets for cleaning, that is all these folks can expect to get in return.

Kyocera's management supports this 5S "culture change" through the belief that, "if managers clearly explain why they're doing something, I think most people will understand the rationale."

I for one would like to hear the rationale behind not allowing people to cheer up their personal workplace during holidays, or where we can put our personal items, like knickknacks our kids make for us, or personal photos of family and friends. In policing these targets, what are the workplace problems we are solving here? What sort skill development are you aiming for?

This approach, in my humble experience and opinion, is a sure-fire way to create a superficial flavor of the month that people will label as a housekeeping & cleaning campaign. The guise is productivity, but it smells, looks, tastes and feels like nitpicky mothers telling us to clean up our rooms. In fact, most managers will eventually fell like this, trust me. A FEW people will "get it", but MOST people will resent having someone come into their office and nit-pick them on where their #1 Dad trophy or Bonzai tree should be taped out on their desk.

This article has one, small glimmer of hope where it actually highlights an example of 5S thinking via the co-location for nurses, doctors and assistants into an office pod; thereby realizing some benefits of 5S through the elimination of such wastes such as searching, waiting, motion, etc.

This of course is the point behind 5S, elimination of the eight wastes through waste free workplace organization. Bottom line: don't do 5S unless you are helping people solve problems that make their job easier and safer while creating waste free standardization. More 5S material is available on my website.

In the meantime, you can read the WSJ 5S article for yourself by following this link:

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NE Shingo Prize and TWI

Presented at NE Shingo Conference last week. Here is the link to a PDF of my presentation; check the "Conferences" section.

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Learning to See Waste in the Genba with 5S

Lots of Lean pros spend countless (well, we are counting) hours in training people about the wastes in manufacturing. Despite how much mainstream Lean training expounds the value of learning to see waste in your work, many people are still blind to it.

In the newest Shingo book, Kaizen and The Art of Scientific Thinking, Shingo talks about comparison and the division of “things”, as a way to compare and move to the next levels of problem solving. The whole thing is a little abstract, but there are some practical applications of comparing two things to arrive at conclusions. One example comes to mind: the standards between two machines. To illustrate this example, look at the following pictures – can you see the differences?

This is a tough photo hunt! Fortunately it is easier to compare things in our gemba. Often, with two machines in the gemba that SHOULD be the same, we unfortunately find that they are not. The reasons for this non-standardization are many, but the simple fact remains. Machines that should be the same should actually be the same. Anything other than that is bound to produce waste. This is a simple concept you can teach people on the shop floor. Grab a digital camera and compare two machines, two processes, two methods, two areas, etc. Here is an example:

Do you see the difference? What is the frequency of lubrication? Which one is right? Are we using the right grease? All kinds of questions are made by simply comparing two things. Often we can arrive at simple improvements through kaizen teian (suggestion) systems using these simple 5S comparison methods.

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Elimination of Waste - 5S and Pull Systems in 1918

I've finished reading Installing Efficiency Methods, Knoeppel. This was published in 1918. Another post on the TWI blog highlights what may be the earliest description of a pull system.

Knoeppel describes in detail the "how-to" in implementing an efficiency and improvement program. But he goes beyond that delving into much of the change management problems Lean professionals face today. Among many other detailed steps that management staff should take, Knoeppel includes a recommended section that he says should be given to each employee.

" The success of the Company depends upon the success of each one employed by it. The success of each one depends upon the success of the Company. Our interests are therefore mutual and can receive proper attention only through co-operation.

We are undertaking the task of increasing the efficiency of out plant. By this we do not mean speeding up and driving our workers. We mean that we want to eliminate waste, whether in the form of time, energy, or materials. Our aim is not to stimulate strenuousness, for this is not efficiency.

Strenuousness means work harder and produce more. Efficiency, on the contrary, means work less hard and produce more. As an example: If you have to walk six feet to the supply of material, you can walk twice as fast and produce more through strenuousness. If, however, conditions are improved and the supply placed three feet away, you can accomplish more through efficiency, without the expenditure of additional energy.

You want steady employment at as high wages as you can get. We want as high a production at as low a cost as is possible. This condition can be brought about if we will work together in the manner that will be indicated to us by a careful and constructive investigation of the details of the business.

What we want to do is to eliminate:

  1. Waste due to faulty planning of work.
  2. Waste due to inefficient shop conditions.
  3. Lost motion in the operations themselves.

Perhaps you do not get material as you should: you are delayed through no fault of your own; machines may not be working as they should; tools supplied you may mean unnecessary work, with the result that you cannot do yourself justice.

Our efforts will first be directed towards improving the planning of the details in connection with production. In theory, we will follow the same method as is used by a railroad company in scheduling and dispatching its freight and passenger trains. In practice, it will mean working on the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. This you can see will mean better deliveries, satisfied customers, less rush and hustle in the factory, better working conditions, plenty of work, and, as a result, you will share in the success that will naturally follow.

You can assist us to a greater degree than you imagine. Look about you. Study what you are doing. Do you see a better way to do things? Can you suggest an improvement anywhere? Remember it is the little things which count, so do not hold back because the matter seems to small to talk about.

Remember this also. We want to force of well-paid, satisfied, willing and progressive workers. All we ask is that you give those assigned the task of studying our business your support and co-operation. They will help us find waste and inefficiency and assist you in eliminating it."

You could post this today in your plant and put across the same message we want withLean: elimination of waste. In one employee notice, Knoeppel touches on flow, 5S and Kaizen nearly 100 years ago.

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5S Required in Preparing for TWI Job Instruction

There are four "get ready" points when tackling problems with job Instruction Program...and 5S is a big part of the answer. Read on for my lessons learned...

The four get ready points are:
  1. Make a timetable
  2. Breakdown the job
  3. Have everything ready - the right tools, equipment, supplies and material
  4. Have everything properly arranged - just as the worker will be expected to keep it
In the Job Instruction program, participants learn about "how to make a timetable" by planning the training matrix and "how to breakdown the job" by writing a Job Breakdown Sheet. This covers the first two get ready points quite well. But what about the other two? Is it enough to simply tell the participants: "have everything ready and arranged"?

The simple answer is "no", it is not enough. In fact, I may be the first to tell you from experience that without these two get ready points fully thought through and acted on, your Job Instruction program is likely to fall flat on its face.

What does it mean to "have everything ready"? I learned the hard way on this one. On one particular job instruction target, we did all of our homework: good communication, everyone involved, all JBS were written and vetted, tools were in place, areas were cleaned up and organized, timetables in place. Once we had commenced training however, the problems began to set in.

What I have learned is that 5S goes beyond just tidying up the work area. Most of us know that 5S thinking is the key to a successful 5S program. What this means is questioning things like equipment and materials. For example: "do I have the right materials in place, in the right quantities?" By applying this first level of 5S thinking (stratification) to materials we can come to a conclusion about those materials state of "readiness". We can then find problems that prevent us from having a stable process in the first place. This is where Job Instruction fails and shines.

Job Instruction programs will fail if we fail to embrace 5S thinking. If we accept defective parts co-mingling in our raw materials, how should we expect our training to go? As planned? Hardly so. In fact, this is often the reason why many people say jobs can't be standardized. Because we don't question the thousands of details and problems at a basic 5S level, we often accept them as givens, therefore, our training must account for all of these variables. Bad materials, material shortages, or too many materials causing excessive handling all contribute to non-standardized processes that inhibit our ability to produce standardized training. The same can be said for equipment. Machine stops are not standardized, yet the occur and we accept them. Is this part of the standard training? No. Is the machine ready? No. In this sense, embracing TPM thinking and encouraging that behavior is an excellent way to "prepare for instruction". If we want a standardized, trouble-free process that is illustrated through world class hassle free training, then 5S and TPM is part of the JI preparation process.

This of course helps us highlight the problem of non-standardization itself. When we write a Job Breakdown Sheet, a well trained Lean practitioner can see these process problems. This is why JI is often used in Kaizen style sessions, where one Job Breakdown Sheet may produce one dozen Kaizen improvement opportunities. By implementing the solutions, the job can then be standardized.

Getting these improvements in place, seeing that they work and ensuring that the new standard doesn't backslide requires enormous effort. This back to basics approach also needs a systematic vehicle to ensure that it's use is reinforced everyday. This is why 5S, JI and other simple continuous improvement skills are best utilized in the hands of well training supervisors. It is also why a JI follow up guide and session was planned as time went on: people using the system realized that their people required ongoing leadership for any continuous improvement program.

These TWI WWII guys were way ahead of their time! Or are we just way behind?!

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Waste of Transportation

See link to Assembly Mag article: AGV vs. Conveyor.

This is a good, short article, outlining the pros and cons of each system. But, in the context of lean, which this aritcle was presented as...it misses the point. Well, one thing was true about this article, there is "no right answer" when it comes to choosing how to move material in your plant.

But, whether you pick AGV, conveyors, fork trucks or whatever...the main goal is to eliminate moves or minimize to the best of your ability.

Someday, I'm going to invent industrial levitation...



Training Blog at Microsoft - Keypoints for Service Training

My TWI alert posted the following weblog link at Microsoft's website.

Tips for on the job training

I like some of the key points made in this post, particularly from the viewpoint of a person in the service industry.

1) "Simply telling customers you care isn't enough" is a major lesson learned in Job Instruction training when discussing different training styles, "telling alone is not enough" and is reminiscent of the JI motto:

"If the person hasn't learned the instructor hasn't taught."

2) "When starting a training program, the in-house trainer, the HR personnel, the supervisor or whoever is tasked to conduct the training, should first ask a simple, basic question, "How do I build an open relationship with the new employee?"

This is interesting to me. First, I like that the author calls out many different roles in a business that are responsible for training. Training should never be left to only training professionals, or the old shop hand. Any time we direct the work of other people, we should consider that moment a training opportunity and act accordingly.

However, I find the last question is misplaced. This question may be similar to asking, "How do I create a culture?" This line of thinking suggests that open relationships and progressive cultures are the objective when training others. However, we all know that simply engaging in the act of training doesn't mean good things are happening. What happens if the training is bad? The likely result is that open relationships are not created.

I'm not sure that asking the relationship question is the "right" question we are seeking to answer when pursuing training perfection. Rather, we learn in JI that the right behaviors we are looking for in training are more likely found when we think about training as means to solving a problem. In this way, a result of good training may be improved communication which in turn will ultimately meet customer needs. This in fact, is the final problem: "how to meet customer needs?" When we think of it this way, the question asked by the blog author is stuck somewhere in the middle of a causal chain. Good communication amongst employees is just one of the many benefits resulting from training. In this way, we can think of the ultimate aim of training is to solve nearly any problem for the sake of the customer. This is what we talk about when trying to balance customer, company and colleague needs.

3)"Learning is the Objective" This of course, the author nails, yet many still fail to see learning as one of the main objectives in any business model.

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