I was in a conversation today and we ended up boiling 5S down to three key points:
- You have everything you need.
- You need everything you have.
- You can see everything clearly belongs where it is.
Of course at the next level, these statements are the standards you are continuously checking against.
Presumably we have cleared out everything else, leaving only what we thought was needed, and established visual controls to verify we have those things, and only those things, in the work area.
Then, as the work is done, the moment someone discovers something else is needed, THAT is the time to deal with the issue.
– Ask “Is this something we should need in the normal course of the work?”
If so, then you learned something that you didn’t know or didn’t remember when you first organized the area. Add that item, find a place for it, and establish a visual control. Right now.
If not, then “Why did we need it this time?”
What broke the normal pattern of work?
This is where 5S breaks down – when we don’t discriminate between something that is needed in the normal course of work, and something that is needed as an exception.
If we just “get it” and add it to the work area, then we normalize deviance and incrementally erode the process. If we ignore the issue, we add “getting this when it is needed” to the work cycle.
If, on the other hand, we seek to understand what broke the normal pattern and deal with the core issue, we have a shot at real kaizen. (It is perfectly OK to get what you need and keep it around as a temporary countermeasure. Just put it someplace where you will KNOW when you used it.)
The worst thing you can do is allow these small problems to accumulate and try to correct them en-mass as some kind of “corrective action.”
Likewise, kanban can be expressed the same way. It is more dynamic, but is really answering the same questions in the context of materials.
If you paraphrase these key points to just about any other “tool of lean” then the purpose of surfacing problems and driving solution becomes apparent.
- You are doing everything that is required.
- Everything being done is required.
- Everything being done clearly is part of the sequence.
Take a look at the other classic “tools of lean.” How would they fit into the same pattern?