5S Auditing and Coaching Tip: Spot the Difference

Here is a great website to teach people in a fun and interesting way about a simple concept in 5S thinking: comparing standards.

Spot The Difference

When trying to see waste, sometimes we are looking at too big of a picture. We need to go narrow our focus, and go a mile deep on identifying waste. In the Spot The Difference games, we get a good feel of how to do that: 1) we compare similar things - these could be machines, layouts, workbenches, methods, materials. Next we look to understand if there is a standard. If so, which standard is better between your targets for comparison? More importantly, what is different? Determining what could and should the standard be is a difficult thing for us to do, but it is infinitely easier if we focus on the small, narrow and deep. Once we coach people in how to find those opportunities, we can follow up with more coaching on how to improve those situations.

There are many advantages to this small kaizen approach. One, small things make it easy to teach people complex concepts. Lean thinking is chock full of paradox. Most people have trouble looking past their work area and seeing the big picture. A better approach to painting the big picture first, is to get people to focus on the small things. This building block approach helps people build up a sound understanding over time. Yes, it takes more time. But it is permanent and far easier to follow up on and sustain over the long haul.

Henry Ford said, "Big problems are made up of many, small problems." This is good advice when trying to get people to see beyond housekeeping and use 5S as a vehicle for improvement. Get people to compare standards in their workplace, in a similar fashion to the "Spot The Difference" game. Ask them which situation or standard (if there is one) is better. If there is no standard, ask them to think through what the standard should be. In any case, have them quantify their conclusions with a fact based approach. Finally, ASK them, DON'T TELL them, to think of kaizen ideas that THEY can implement and YOU can support. Then get out of the way and don't tell them you would have done it differently. You can get the same result by repeating the cycle we just reviewed. Be a coach.

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