How to successfully approach 5S in Lean Six Sigma

5S and Lean Six Sigma are all part of a process to improve the workplace. There are numerous steps to both of these processes, but once you have a full understanding of them you will have a business that is constantly growing and improving. The main factor to remember about both of these methods, as well as the Kaizen method, is they are about small changes over time. Instead of big instant changes, these focus on small changes that make a big difference over time, which is much better than drastic changes a couple times every year.

In order to understand how these methods help your business, it is important to know what they are and how they work. 5S is a process that involves maintaining your business through 5 Japanese words seiri (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain). These 5 words all reflect a different step in implementing the changes in your business. If you follow them with care you will see measurable results in no time.

Focusing on the Lean Six Sigma as it relates to the process, the first S, sort, is the important step to keep in mind. Lean Six Sigma focuses on removing waste from the workplace. There are 8 types of waste this method seeks to remove. The 8 types are transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over-processing, defects, and skills. They all have a significant impact on business and how your company grows, so the best thing you can possibly do is get it under control as soon as possible.

There are multiple ways that you can get these key waste points under control. The first thing you should do is talk to your employees and give them some control over the situation. They understand what needs to be done; this is their day to day job. If anyone would be able to identify the problem areas as it pertains to waste it would be your regular employees.

You could erect a bulletin board for suggestions and areas of opportunity in each individual area. This will allow all of the employees to bring their ideas together and help you move forward with small changes to remove the waste that might be clogging up your production line. Once the employee submits their concerns and solutions, take some time to read them over carefully. They are going to have the most realistic ideas and solutions. Many companies like seeking the help of organization firms for this, and while it sounds good in practice, it really doesn’t work out. These people do not stand in the shoes of your employees every day, so they may overlook something simple that can save you thousands of dollars. You will save even more money just by not hiring a firm to do what your employees are more than capable of doing.

Once you are able to tackle the first big S on the 5S list you can start moving on to the other four. The rest include implementing solutions, working on other ways to advance the company through small changes, making the workspace safer, and of course following up.

If you are able to work with your employees to make sure all of these steps are being followed you will see a significant boost in customer service, employee morale, profits, and overall, have a better place to work. No one wants to feel stressed whenever they get to work. These solutions will help alleviate some of that stress and help bring out the maximum potential in your company and the people working for you.

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