The Ultimate “Sustain” Audit

By Ron Pereira Updated on May 16th, 2013

So I have 5S on my mind since I’m wrapping up a 5S course for the Gemba Academy School of Lean.

Anyhow, while finishing the “sustain” module I thought about one of the easiest ways to determine how far your organization has come on the 5S journey.

Candy Wrapper Audit

Here’s my idea.  Go to your vending machine and buy a candy bar.  Eat the candy bar or give it away if you don’t eat candy.  Next, take the candy bar wrapper and drop it on the ground.  And make sure the place you select has decent foot traffic.  Then hide around the corner.

The “audit” is to see how many people walk past the candy bar wrapper before bending down, picking it up, and throwing it away.  Perhaps if the first person stops you score a 5, etc.  You could even run the test in multiple locations if you wanted to get really tricky!

Am I nuts?

What do you think?  Is this a fair test?  Why not give it a try and let us know how it works out?

  1. Anonymous

    March 25, 2009 - 1:02 am

    This test will check whether the Shine and Sort cultures are embedded. I think that a better test is the how long does it take to find an item test.

  2. Embarrased in Iowa

    March 25, 2009 - 8:07 am

    so far 8 people have walked by the wrapper on the ground I placed right after I read this here in our office. TO be fair it’s not a big candy bar wrapper but it’s pretty much invisible. It seems we have some work to do.

  3. TJBraun

    March 25, 2009 - 8:08 am

    You could also place a crumpled $1 bill against the baseboard where the wall meets the floor and then the candy wrapper directly in the footpath as recommended. It would be interesting then to see which “waste” gets picked up more frequently.

  4. Shafi Khalisdar

    March 25, 2009 - 9:29 pm

    I do not believe in this type of test. We should evaluate our pregress in real-life situation. This is manipulative and Lean principles are totally against manipulating a situation/person.

  5. Robert Edward Cenek

    March 27, 2009 - 11:45 am

    This is actually a good test. It’s a test of personal discipline. If someone is that lazy not to pick up a piece of trash, how much “fire in the belly” will they have for doing the same with their office or production processes. Get’s back to Dr. Deming’s insistence that that you can judge the level of quality in an operation through direct observation.

  6. Mark Graban

    March 28, 2009 - 8:28 am

    I fall on the side of those saying no. I wouldn’t do this in my workplace.

    Paying attention to whether people keep the workplace clean and if they have pride in it or not is one thing, intentionally dropping trash sort of crosses a line, I think.

    More an interesting thought experiment than something I’d really do.

    Thanks for getting us thinking!!

  7. Venkatesh Srambikal

    March 30, 2009 - 11:20 am

    By pure misfortune, when I reached the plant floor, I saw a candy wrapper accompanied by a empty packet of chips , obviously they were lying there for sometime. My test was over before it started, I agree with Mark about intentionally littering the place just to prove a point.

  8. Observer

    April 17, 2009 - 4:38 am

    This depends on the culture. In clean environments where 5S has been a culture already the wrapper can be expected to be picked up. At my home – certainly yes. At my office – may be. At a mall – definitely no. It is a function of associated hygiene perception. I have been brought up from childhood not to pick up dirty things from the road. The more private the space, the better may be the compliance.

Have something to say?

Leave your comment and let's talk!

Start your Lean & Six Sigma training today.