5S Store October 2019

OCTOBER 2019

www.the5sstore.com 978-842-4610

ARE YOU SENDING MIXED MESSAGES?

TAKE THE ‘SCARY’ OUT OF 5S

Several years ago, I took a trip to the Midwest and visited a facility to assess their 5S needs and determine how lean could be implemented. I’ll be honest; the site was in bad shape when I arrived. Many of the areas looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years, the air conditioner was broken, and it was, in general, pretty scary. At the same time, the manager had brought in some awesome new 5S tools. They had beautiful tool shadow boards that were brand spanking new and ready to be filled with tools. The manager was confused as to why the team wasn’t on board with 5S. Why weren’t they using these great boards he’d bought for their tools? I was confused why the company had a broken air conditioner when they could obviously spend money on new tools. Of course the team wasn’t using the tool shadow boards. They could hardly get anything done through the filth and poor working conditions. The facility wasn’t just dirty or messy; it was unsafe. I love a good challenge, and I was pretty sure I’d met my match. 5S would never be successful here until the leadership team improved the workspace, updated the air system, and helped the team thrive in better conditions. They were sending mixed messages, and it was confusing to

It can be easier to overlook some of these aspects when you’re not on the floor every day — I get it. But for the team members in the trenches, they are all too aware of the poor air quality or the dirty space because they have to deal with it day in and day out. If you bypass any phase of 5S or take shortcuts, the result isn’t going to be as effective. You can’t hope to truly implement it unless you’re starting off on the right foot and going through each phase thoroughly in every area of your warehouse or plant. Unsafe working conditions are going to undermine anything else you do. No shiny, new 5S tool is going to make a difference if

everyone involved. The manager spent thousands of dollars on tool shadow boards, and yet, the air system wasn’t working. The workers were too busy worrying about breathing in disgusting stuff to think about arranging their tools on a fancy board. What good were the boards going to do if the team couldn’t even function at work? FORM VS. FUNCTION When I visit a site, I ask leaders what they want to get out of it. What level do they want their place to be at when we’re done? For some, the answer is purely functional. They want to implement 5S and get everything working smoothly and efficiently. Others are looking to get their warehouse sparkling clean. They want it to look so good that if ABC News showed up today, they wouldn’t need to think twice about cleaning up. In this situation, part of the challenge was addressing the mixed messages the team was getting. Yes, the shadow boards were great, but they weren’t going to be helpful if the team couldn’t feel safe doing their jobs.

you don’t foster a safe, healthy, and functioning work environment for your team.

-David Visco

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