Ronak has been successful with 5S in the factory but is facing challenges with 5S in the office. He said in a follow up to the post on 5S guidelines for the office:
Only problem is in personalized cabins, where there is lots of arguments from managers why should they mark and label their cupboards and drawers, I know where i keep all my things.
Can you help me in this?
Readers, please feel free to chip in with advice.
Personal goods in non-personal cabinets
If the contents of the cabinet were truly “personal” as in lunch box, family photos, crossword puzzles, etc. then the first S of 5S should have taken care of some of those things. Whatever remains after the 1st S – whatever is not Sorted out – should be put in its proper place and labeled so that the accumulation of clutter becomes immediately visible again. Otherwise you keep having to go back to sort.
When not to mark
If the cabinet contained top secret information it may be a good idea not to detail its contents. If it was agreed that the cabinet is essentially a personal locker, then just mark it as such but don’t detail the contents. If it’s never important for anyone else to be able to find anything inside of those personal cabinets, then they probably don’t need to mark those cabinets.
However if that were true, it raises the question of why only one person (the manager) in the office used that information or materials in the cabinet. Surely the information belongs to the company and is used as part of a process that involves an internal customer-supplier relationship. If that logic holds true, then the contents need to be visible because someone else may need to retrieve the information when the manager is absent or otherwise indisposed.
What’s the point of marking?
We should not mark and label things just because the 5S textbook says to and gives examples and instruction on how to do it. Whatever we do with kaizen needs to be sensible and reasonable. Marking identifies something, yes. But more importantly it identifies everything that it is not. This enables visual management by saying “books go here” for example, allowing us to see that all non-books in that location are an abnormality. Marking may not be the most practical, effective or attractive way of achieving this. As an alternative perhaps one could replace the cabinet doors and walls with transparent plastic so no labels were needed. Yet another alternative is to take photos of the contents and paste these photos on the outside of the cabinets.
Elevate the discussion
I’ve never met a cabinet I didn’t want to label. But if not having the cabinets labeled never causes a problem, it’s OK not to label them. However being unable to see something is in itself a problem within a lean workplace because visualization is one of the golden rules. Making problems visible is the only way we will solve them. If the managers can’t agree to this principle they are in no way ready for 5S or any aspect of lean.