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Phase 5 - Shitsuke of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

Many businesses have focused on implementing quality improvement methodologies such as lean manufacturing or Six Sigma. Another popular method derives from 5 Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. These words are called the 5 S Methodology. Translated to English, the words mean: Sort, Set in Order, Sweep, Standardize, and Sustain.

The first S is Seiri or Sort. This phase focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. During this phase you will sort through all the tools and materials in the work environment and eliminate the unused ones. This process is often referred to as red tagging. A red tag is placed on all the items that are not needed to complete your job. If you do not discard the items, you will move them to a holding area. Some used items are moved to a warehousing facility while other items may be discarded. Sorting eliminates broken tools, obsolete materials, and raw scrap materials. This allows you to free up valuable space.

The second S is Seiton or Set in order or straighten. This phase focuses on effective storage methods and efficiency. Set in order is the process of arranging tools and equipment after a manner that promotes effective work flow. Some strategies for set in order include outlining work areas and locations, painting floors, modular shelving and cabinets, and shadow boards. By having a designated area for everything, you will eliminate wasted time by your employees as they search for items.

The third S is Seiso or sweeping. This phases emphasizes the elimination of clutter and junk. It believes that workplace needs to be kept clean and neat in order to be efficient. Daily follow-up cleaning will be necessary in order to maintain the improvement levels you have set in place. Daily cleaning will be a part of the work required, not just an occasional activity when the work environment is too messy. The sweeping step will create ownership to your employees for their area and the equipment they use. The sweeping phase will also unveil underlying problems such as leaks, broken equipment, fatigue, contamination, vibration, and misalignment.

Helpful Resources:
1. The five Ss: Number 5: Shitsuke
This website gives you a very detailed look at what this section of the 5 S program is. But it also gives you ideas on what you can do to help implement this part of the program into your workplace.

2. 5S Shitsuke
This website gives you a very brief but to the point look at what shitsuke is. But it also gives you an idea of how you should use it and what you can do to ensure that it is being used properly.

3. 5S material
This website is a forum type website which allows users to post their information that they feel is relevant. This website provides you with a link to other forums in this forum that have to do with the main topic of 5S.

4. 5S Lean Manufacturing
This website gives you a very brief series of articles that talks about the various stages of the 5 S program. This article talks about the last part of the program and how you can go about implementing it in your workplace.

5. Improving Productivity, Quality and Safety: Shitsuke - The Final Step
This website is a personal blog that is focused on productivity and how you can improve it through various means. This blog is about the final step in the 5 S program. It includes what the final step is, what its purpose is and what it is made up of.

6. Lean Manufacturing Blog, Kaizen Articles and Advice
This website provides you with numerous links to various articles and blogs that deal with 5 S and lean manufacturing. It also includes a comment board that allows you to talk about which 5S part was hardest for your company.

7. 5S Lean Manufacturing
This website provides you with a brief description of the 5 S program and includes what each part of the program is. But the website also allows you the chance to purchase things so that you can begin implementing the 5 S program in your workplace.

8. Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, Kanban, Just in Time Articles
This article is more like a newsletter that talks about various aspects of lean manufacturing. A small part of the newsletter is dedicated to the % S program, but it also talks about how 5 S is a part of lean manufacturing.

9. Implementing Lean Manufacturing Six Sigma with 5S
This article gives you a breakdown on the various parts of the 5 S program, but it also talks about how a lean manufacturing program is going to work with both Six Sigma and the 5 S program.

10. 5S: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seketsu, Shitsuke
This website gives you a chance to purchase their program which is designed to help you implement the 5 S program into your workplace. The book that you are ordering also includes examples that you will find useful.

The fourth S is Seiketsu or standardize. This phase emphasizes on the importance everyone has to their role. It concentrates on making employees practice the best standardized rules for their area. The employees can be involved in the development of these standardized rules because they are valuable for the information they deal with on a day to day basis. It also uses a process called visual control to help standardize the processes in the organization.

The fifth S is Shitsuke or sustain. This phase refers to the maintaining and reviewing of standards. Many people think this is the most difficult phase to implement and achieve. Implementing change is hard for many individuals to accept. More often than not, change will occur for a small time period and people will revert back to their old ways, where they feel comfortable. Once you have established the first four phases, they will be the new way of operating. You must put steps in place to avoid a gradual decline of the new rules to adjust back to the old way of operating. If an issue does arise, such as a suggested improvement or a new way of operating, then a review of the first four phases is appropriate. Just remember that you need to define the new operating system and set standards so that the workplace stays organized and avoids reverting to old behaviors.

Implementing the 5 S Methodology will require effort and time on your part. Now that you know the difference between each phase, we will discuss the final phase in further detail.

Shitsuke means sustain and is often called discipline. This last phase is the "glue" that holds the entire process together. Unfortunately people are not perfect. Shitsuke recognizes this and focuses on creating a workplace with good habits. Bad habits can be broken with proper training and practice. Shitsuke originally came from the tackling (guiding stitches) that are done before a garment is sewn. Applied to the 5 S methodology, Shitsuke serves as the underlying tool that can help everything go smoothly and function properly.

Because humans are not perfect and can make mistakes, we need education to help us change the way we think and act. Having self-discipline will greatly improve the complete 5 S Methodology because you are demonstrating an ability to control the way you think and act. If you are discipline to perform a certain task (such as organize the tools) then you are demonstrating you can be disciplined for a future task. It is important to spend time training your employees on how to follow policies and use tools and make good habits of certain practices. Be sure you follow-up with the training to make sure the employees are implementing what they were taught. A disciplined education system will help you company decide if the current training is working and what you can do to help it for future employees.

Once proven method of education is learning on the job. It is easier to obtain feedback and you can see the results of improper discipline. A certain level of mistakes must be permitted for learning on the job. Focus on learning versus on what they did wrong.

A simple tool you can use in the Shitsuke method is a checklist. The checklist will help to ensure the jobs are getting done. Your employees will simply check off the items they have completed and it will guarantee that the job is getting done correctly each and every time.

Disciplined thinking will include not only following the rules but also following up a problem with an analysis that identifies the root causes and what needs to be eliminated. Being disciplined involves being creative and innovative. Having disciplined creativity includes understanding how creativity works and then utilizing it.

Far too often the failure for many processes, including the 5 S methodology lies in communication. Misunderstandings need to be addressed and handled in an efficient, effective manner. Discipline in communication includes using clear language and following up with individuals to make sure they have understood the process clearly. If you have properly implemented Seiketsu, then you should have clear signs of communication everywhere.

Discipline also includes outlining responsibility. If everyone has clearly outlined job positions, they will understand that they have a certain amount of responsibility for their job and they will know what they need to do in order to complete the task. Everyone needs to feel responsible for some aspect in order to feel that they are contributing to the overall success of the organization.

Your managers will provide a critical role in installing discipline into the company. Since managers have yearly or quarterly reviews of their staff members, they can insist that discipline is used. Managers can also give authority to subordinates to decide what to do if a problem will threaten the quality of a product. Discipline often involves hard decisions like punishment to employees who are lacking in discipline. This is why so many think Shitsuke is the hardest phase to implement in the 5 S Methodology.

Managers are in a great position to encourage their employees to take a disciplines approach to working. When you tell your workers about how they need to behave, they will listen. After you have talked to them about behaviors and discipline, watch them to see if they are actually following thru with that you said.

The 5 S Methodology can be incredibly useful in just about everything. Not only is the 5 S Methodology useful for businesses, but it can even be implemented in our personal lives to organize ourselves. Far too often we try to tip toe around the dysfunctional methods we are currently using. The 5 S Methodology brings out all the problems and helps us find ways to fix them. With disorganization comes unhappy employees, bad interpersonal relationships, high absenteeism, and several other things. Proper implementation of the 5 S Methodology will help everyone. Try experimenting with the 5 S Methodology at home first so you can see how it has improved your life. Once you see the benefits, begin using it in the workplace.

The 5 S Methodology will help to provide a good framework for improvement. Everyone in the company can come together and tackle what the problems are and find ways to fix them. The 5 S Methodology will provide a basis for other quality improvement programs like Six Sigma or lean manufacturing. The practice of the 5 S Methodology finds the root cause of the problem, and implements procedures like organization, neatness, cleanliness, standardization, and self-discipline.

Implementing and following through with the 5 S Methodology will provide tremendous benefits to your company. A true 5 S process will keep costs down, eliminate errors and defects, provide structure, and create a healthy working environment. Everyone at the company will be impacted by the 5 S Methodology and they will each play a key role in its success.

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