“Oh no,” some of you are thinking. “Too late! Why didn’t you tell us earlier?”
Jamie Flinchbaugh started a thought-provoking discussion today on his blog where he says don’t do 5S and gives good reasons. I encourage you to hop over and check it out if you haven’t already.
One of Jamie’s own comments contains some particularly good food for thought. Many, including myself, would say you need to do 5S early in the lean journey to set standards and put some discipline (being the 5th S) in place. Jamie agrees but goes further:
However, is that the FIRST behavior change you want to build in your team and your organization? If so, then great, 5S will help you practice building discipline. But what if you want to build engagement? Curiosity? Deep problem solving? Questioning everything? Of course discipline is a good behavior to build. My only question – is the the first behavior you want to address?
That’s a great point. It’s all about target, actual, why the gap? and how do we close it? If you have a prioritized list of non-lean behaviors to go about changing, and a pre-selected set of lean tools or practices that specifically target these, then all the well. Pick and proceed. In my experience people’s understanding of cause and effect, especially when the cause is human behavior and the effect is “it’s still broke” is weak and plagued by bias. And behavior is just one facet of lean deployment of course. Lean deployments that strongly drive behavior change without adequate financial and/or customer impact will not go far in most organizations.
Even if discipline through 5S is not the first and most urgent behavior change, don’t let that delay you for very long in doing 5S. There are reasons that 5S is a building block and prerequisite of so many other aspects of lean. If you want to know what they are, read Jamie’s post and follow on comments.
And when invited to visit your workplace, I will never accept “Discipline is not the most urgent behavior we are trying to change” as an excuse for trash on the floor, cluttered workstations or any other signs of poor 5S.