5S – Standardize (Seiketsu)

Well, we have removed the excess clutter from our work areas, sorted out and organized what we need on a daily basis, and cleaned everything up. So now we need to make sure that we have the right systems in place in order to maintain the environment we have created.

What exactly needs to be standardized? EVERYTHING!

To start the standardizing process, the roles and responsibilities of all staff must be both documented and clear.  Management needs to provide enough time for the staff to develop and implement the changes. Staff must be willing to embrace the changes and they also need to be willing to help implement them. In order to have the staff embrace the standard processes including the maintenance schedules, everyone within the organization needs to have input. The more group discussions you have while you are implementing and documenting “what is the standard” or “what the standard should be”, the better chance you will have of sustaining the standards (the 5th “S”).

Standardization is about two things:

  • Establishing the best practices in all areas of your business
  • Getting everyone to copy the standards exactly the same way every time

Labeling,  color coding, and other visual tools in conjunction with written processes are
all part of the standardization process. Caution: many organizations, unfortunately, DO NOT complete this step and then they tend to stop their journey and possibly even slide backward very quickly. Take your time to make the processes clear in order that they may be easily trained.

Also, remember that the entire LEAN journey (5 S being “part of the journey”) is about  CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT, so please make sure that you understand that the standard process must continue to be modified as new and better ideas and technology emerges. Therefore, when creating your standardized processes make sure that you also include both time and a plan of how and when to implement the new ideas and technology.