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Purpose of 5S | Cultural Change Phase

The initial purpose of 5S in the Cultural Change Phase is described in the following:

5S Defined: Workplace Organization

Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain

Japanese Root: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shituke

Other words used in 5S: Set in Order (straighten), Systematic Cleaning (shine), Sweep (shine).

Purpose of 5S

Purpose of 5S

So, what’s the purpose of 5S?  According to others . . .

Well, in order to answer that question I did what any normal person would do – I googled “purpose of 5S.”  Here’s what I found:

One said purpose of 5S:

The true purpose of 5S is to spot problems quickly. See reference website here.

KCOE Question: What if you don’t have a robust problem solving system?

Another said purpose of 5S:

Keeps our workplace clean, provides nice environment to work, increases productivity, saves time, reduces costs, provides safety, creates joy while working, eliminates all types of waste.  See the website reference here.

KCOE Question: Are those purposes or results of successful 5S?

Another said purpose of 5S:

The main purpose of 5S is to improve efficiency by eliminating the waste of motion when looking for tools, materials or information.  See website reference here.

KCOE Question: Is that a systematic approach to continuous improvement or just using a tool to see initial results?

Culture matters!  The initial purpose of 5S is to help change culture!

Quick Background:

The OE System has three phases:

1. Cultural Change (engaging people)

2. Implementation (engaging process)

3. Daily living (engaging improvement)

Purpose of 5S in the cultural change phase:

To Establish Routine Behaviors (daily, weekly, and monthly PDCA)

Other purposes of 5S in the cultural change phase:

a. To invigorate the suggestion (solution) system

b. Provide basis of learning for the foundations of PDCA, visual management, and roles/responsibilities

5S +1: A Cultural Change Tool

The Cultural Change phase (engaging people) involves establishing a continuous improvement framework.  Cultural change begins with establishing behaviors, which begin to change mindsets.  Therefore 5S should first be treated as a cultural change tool – establishing behaviors, rather than a lean implementation tool – increasing flow, etc, etc.  If you try to enter into lean implementation by engaging process and the culture isn’t right – you’ll fail.

In order to achieve world-class performance (Operational Excellence), you must start with the culture!  If the culture isn’t right, then lean tools will NOT work.  Most lean tools fail because 5S is both a cultural change (establishing behaviors) tool and an implementation (seeing and solving problems) tool.

The IMMEDIATE purpose of 5S is to begin establishing behaviors and knit 5s into your continuous improvement framework.  The specific behaviors are:

1. daily end of shift work restoration

2. weekly team leader audit

3. monthly balanced scorecard meeting

5S +1: A PDCA Cycle

Though the content of the checklist, audit, and balanced scorecard should be meaningful, the specifics of the content concerning 5S aren’t all that important right now.  What is important is that team members are completing the end of shift restoration at the end of each shift and team leaders are performing weekly audits that yield a score reviewed at the balanced scorecard meeting.

Teams are also learning and practicing problem solving and implementing solutions via the solutions system.  When team members and team leaders have existing PDCA cycles in place (daily restoration, weekly audit, monthly BSC meeting AND are comfortable with problem solving – 5S becomes a tool to see and solve problems.

5S works if the purpose for 5S is cultural change first

Check out the top 10 reasons why 5S doesn’t work

Most likely you’re using 5S as a lean tool before you’re using it as a culture change tool.  Establish the corresponding PDCA cycles (daily restoration, weekly audit, monthly BSC review), teach and coach employees on visual management, coach and encourage solutions.  THEN you’ll have a long term focus on operational excellence.

Once you have a continuous improvement framework in place try this:

1. Pick a team and train them on 5S. (Email us for training material).

2. Generate initial solutions and let the team define who is responsible and by when.

3. Generate a daily end of shift restoration. (What should happen daily to support/sustain these improvements?)

4. Generate a weekly audit.  (What should the team leader check weekly to show gaps between the current and desired state?)  Do problem solving when a target it missed.

5. Keep track of the score on the BSC support row.  Do problem solving when the target is missed.

The Next Purpose of 5S: See and Solve Problems

Once you have a robust problem solving system, and the PDCA cycles are functional in the 5S system – 5S becomes a tool to see and solve problems. Short term results and improvements will naturally be generated from successful 5S efforts, but if you use 5S as a cultural change tool first you will see long term and world-class results.

Check out this link for the latest photos of 5S Examples

Check back to find a link to the purpose of 5S in the implementation phase.

Want to learn more about the purpose of 5S +1 in the Cultural Change Phase, come to KCOE’s 5S +1 Workshop!



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4 Responses to “Failing at 5S? | The REAL of Purpose of 5S”

  1. 5S in the Office
    12:49 pm on December 9th, 2010

    [...] time in the office doesn’t come from looking for a pencil or looking for a phone.  Remember the purpose of 5S in the cultural change phase: to support the OE system and establish PDCA, visual mana….  Once you’ve really grasped the concept of 5S – it’s time to use the tool to solve [...]

  2. 5S in the Office | OE Blog - Operational Excellence Resources by KCOE
    3:32 pm on December 8th, 2011

    [...] time in the office doesn’t come from looking for a pencil or looking for a phone.  Remember the purpose of 5S in the cultural change phase: to support the OE system and establish PDCA, visual mana….  Once you’ve really grasped the concept of 5S – it’s time to use the tool to solve [...]

  3. Marilyn Pacheca
    9:52 pm on September 10th, 2013

    What is the Main objective of 5S and its Purpose?

  4. admin
    11:14 am on September 20th, 2013

    The purpose of 5S is to create an organized, clean and efficient workplace. If a workplace is clean, problems that arise will be visual, and therefore easy to spot. If 5S is performed and sustained effectively, the company can achieve its objectives faster by locating problems and finding a solution. Also, a clean environment is a safe environment!

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