The 6T of Daily Kaizen from a Cafeteria in China

On the 7th floor of the building that houses our office in Shanghai, China there is a cafeteria. As I queued today a large green board caught my eye. There were 6 clip boards next to a poster extolling something called the “6T practice”. Sure enough, the clip boards held checklists, daily records. These six clip boards are within easy reach of the customers standing in the queue, and I was able to verify that they were up to date.

The 6T turned out to be the six practical work duties for a well-run cafeteria. The first three T items are the same as the first three of the 5S: sort, straighten, sweep. The fourth T is standardize or follow standards, the fifth T is check or inspect, and the sixth T is to improve.

What exactly does the “T” stand for, you may ask. This is the best part in my opinion. You will notice the first two characters of each are 天天 which in Chinese spells “tiantian” and means “daily”. So the linking element of the 6T are that these are all daily practices.

Too often 5S, kaizen, standardization and checking our own work or the work of others begins with enthusiasm as a new management program but soon becomes a routine and neglected “nice to have”. Putting 5S and kaizen together as the “6T practice” positions them as essential daily “must haves” behaviors. Placing the record of completing these duties on the clip board on the food service floor within reach of the customer is an excellent way to link practice with purpose.