5S Store September 2019


www.the5sstore.com 978-842-4610



Imagine yourself in THIS situation:

You’re part of a team of folks who rehab mobile construction site trailers. You’re a hard worker and put your all into getting the job done. One day, your manager tells you that you’ll be implementing a process improvement initiative called “lean.” Eventually, some so-called expert comes to talk to you about how something called 5S is going to make everything work better and more efficiently. What about the roof, you wonder? Is 5S going to do anything to fix our leaky, unsafe roof? Why are we spending time and money on this when we don’t have a functional roof? Several years ago, this was the situation I walked into. I was the 5S expert brought in to train a team about how much lean implementation was going to change their workplace. Right off the bat, it was clear that this group of engineers, construction folks, and carpenters worked their butts off to get the job done. From the get-go, they were pretty skeptical about 5S and how much it was really going to improve their workplace. With lots of raised eyebrows and suspicious looks, this team wasn’t buying into the 5S hype. While they saw the potential benefits of 5S, I finally understood their hesitation to it.

other glaring issues that haven’t been addressed. Give your people a big victory and get them on your side. I’ve seen it happen at other facilities and offices. Another place had a busted air conditioning unit barely functioning in a very hot environment. This had been an ongoing issue for nearly a year. I told the GM that it needed to get fixed if they wanted to see anything else improved. You can’t expect your team to be committed to improvement unless you hold yourself accountable to do the same. You must show them that you want to make changes and give them proof. Until you do, you can’t expect them to give a damn about a

For years, the workers had wanted and needed the roof fixed. It was visibly frustrating the team, and the owner continually put off fixing it. This created an “us” vs. “them” mentality that became a huge point of contention. Until this was addressed, there was no way the team was going to buy into 5S, much less any other new initiative. I sat down with the owner of the company and explained what I saw. “There is nothing more you can do to get them on board until the roof is fixed,” I explained. “Show them you’re changing; show them you really want to make things better.”

beautiful new shadow board or the world’s best-laid floor tape.

He heard me and fixed the roof.

After the roof was fixed, it was like night and day in that shop. The roof was proof that the owner was truly invested in making things better, and the team was now invested and excited.

David Visco

The takeaway from this story is that 5S isn’t going to do squat if there are


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