Well, we have removed the excess clutter from our work areas, sorted everything out, cleaned, repainted, and standardized all of our processes. The place looks fantastic and we know “where” everything is supposed to be and “how” to keep it that way. The question is … are you and your staff dedicated enough to keep it that way?
It is time to look at the last but potentially the hardest step of 5S – Sustain. It should be a
simple step. After all, why would anyone want to go back to the way things were before you started? Why is it so difficult to sustain?
In order to both sustain the hard work that has been completed plus to continue improving and moving forward, it is vital that all lines of communication stay open. Leadership and commitment is key part of making sure that both the message and the importance of 5S is reinforced regularly. It is also important to make sure that there is enough time allocated on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to dedicate to the standardized procedures and improvements to 5S.
Since part of an employee’s job responsibilities should now include disciplinary actions if they do not adhere to 5S; it may help your employees stay positively focused on your vision and goals if you also create a program that rewards employees for good suggestions on improvements to your current system.
If you have not already created audits in your standardization process, make sure that you do. If there is not a benchmark to measure yourself against, you will never know if you are moving forward or backward. Also, make sure that everyone, including all of your new employees, is familiarized with the 5S system and is excited about becoming part of the team. After all, if your entire organization runs as a TEAM, it becomes easier to create a culture. If you have a positive culture of people moving towards a goal of improvement; it becomes easy to not only sustain but to improve on your current state.