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Lean Forums - 5S is self initiative or a create programmed system?

11/07/2013 05:50 AM

The manufacturing plant that I work with has relatively challenging issues in 5S. 5S activities have been implemented few times but without much success. My first kaizen activities start with implementation of 5S with certain degree of success, although it seems the activities do not gain a lot of tangible benefits. In spite of that, the company VP has specifically commented that the company does not required the Lean Manager to work on 5S in the line as it should seen as self initiative activities rather than running as a project itself. I strongly disagree as I see the prime reason causing 5S failure was due to sustainability as standards set was neither right to point nor robust enough. 5S could be mother of all continuous improvements as it triggers people to think ?xtra' of creating a robust standards and also will lead to other kaizen projects. Question is, how to justify 5S' tangible savings and how to convince top management the worthiness to continue 5S projects?

11/07/2013 03:11 PM

I agree. It sounds to me like the VP, and perhaps all management, have set the field for 5S failure. 5S has never in my experience been a "self iniative" activity. It needs to be strongly supported by leadership or it will fail to sustain. I wonder how successful other Lean projects will be?

11/07/2013 03:11 PM

Peng, 5S, in the end, is about Standard Work, not the score, or tangible savings, or cleaning the closets etc. Your savings and capacity creation are realized thru Kaizen events, and without standards there can be no Kaizen (Ohno). In my opinion, your VP needs to be taught the principles of TPS, specifically how 5S is the foundation for the TPS house, just as it is for the LPS house at my company. Right now he/she doesn't appear to "get it". In principle, I agree with your position. Ken

11/08/2013 11:22 AM

Peng, here are some ideas on the benefits of a 5S program. Sm Tomas

11/08/2013 11:22 AM

Peng, I think your VP may be a lot more switched on than you think. IMHO both 5S (although I prefer the original 4S) and Kaizen in mature lean organisations should be self-initiatives with coaching delivered by line managers. Where organisations are starting down their lean journey line managers will need both coaching and support to coach their staff. That is where I see the Lean team providing real value. The key is to focus coaching on delivering outcomes rather than processes. I suggest you find an area where there are real observable problems resulting from a lack of standards and organisation and offer to work with them to find a better way. You can use your knowledge and experience in 5S to help the managers in the area to solve their problems and deliver real benefits by asking the right questions at the right time. Once you have done this a few times you may find yourself in demand. A key piece of advice; always remember that the process is theirs and so is the responsibility to deliver improvements. Help and coach but don't try to do it for them. This will also help you develop and deepen your understanding of 5S - most Lean managers I have worked with outside of Toyota only had a very superficial understanding derived from a short training course and as such knew very little about it.

11/11/2013 08:38 PM

In my opinion, 5S is often a starting point because it is relatively easy to get started and also easy to see the change, but it also requires the team to develop discipline to sustain it. Virtually every lean process has standard work that requires discipline to be successful. 5S is just the foundational training grounds for creating a culture of discipline, and it is a place where it is easily visible whether the standards are being adhered to. Yes, there are benefits inherent to 5S, such as less time spent looking for "things" and perhaps not

needing so many "things", but often the real long-term benefits creating the expectation and culture of discipline, which allows you to sustain future improvements.

11/11/2013 08:38 PM

As a Lean Tech at my company, we coach 5S before anything else, even safety. We learned early on that half of the deaths on the job in the U.S. were a result of poor housekeeping. 5S is the core of all that we do. It is not easy to implement. It takes support from EVERYBODY. From the C.E.O. and President all the way down. Ask you operators this, "What would it take for you to be able to do your job blindfolded?" If you pay attention to all the answers they give, you will find that they all lead to 5S: All obstacles out of the way Everything in the right place Everything easy to reach This is how you need to sell the idea to Management. If you don't have their support, then it will not be sustained.

11/11/2013 08:39 PM

Peng, sorry to hear that your 5S implementations have not been succesful. I have gone to work at different plants and encountered the same situation. And, the more failures

the less likely mgmt is to try again. I have done some root cause into the 5S failures that I have come accross. For what it is worth, here is what I have found (with # 1 being the primary reason): 1) the Lean facilitator had only a surface understanding of 5S; I can probably stop there but I'll expand: 2) Very poor applications of Set In Order (A,B,C Space, point of use, spaghetti diagrams, making locations (homes) for things VISUAL. Once the area becomes visual it becomes so much easier to sustain - "a place for everything and everything in it's place" is not sustained by memory. 3) Did not insist that mgmt roll up their sleevs and get involved. If I don't have their time we don't even start. Period. 4) On your 5S audit form - be able to explain in regular shop floor speak how each item will benefit the operator (no parrotted back/canned responses) 5) Poor sustain approaches. Following a 5S implementation we do a 5S audit with a member of the target area's managment each week for the 1st month, then every other week for the 2nd month, then, if all goes well, monthly. (This is PDCA for 5S.) The idea with the audit is not to ding. The idea with the audit is to coach/teach the mgmt team on 5S so they can inturn effectively coach their teams. Consistent messages and repetition I have found are critical. Ask them what kind of resistance they are getting and coach them on how to deal with it. I think it is so disrespectul to "train" people on 5S then not give them the coaching/support to be succeful. At the end of a 2nd month audit cycle I had one supervisor ask me if we could stay on this cycle for another month because he felt he needed this frequency of coaching. That is a very good sign. Now, a year later, this person is very compfortable with communicating the way 5S is practiced and can also explain WHY. His area is rocking 5S. And this person has seen a lot of continuous improvement things come and go in his 25 years. 6) Pick a target area and make it the shining example of how 5S can help. Make sure that it is sticking before you go to the next area. We took this approach and now have created a pull for 5S. "Can we go next" is common at my plant. Oh yea, put up a summary poster board in a highly visible location of your plant (before/after pics, list the changes, highlight the benefits, show a picture of the team, include testimonials, etc.). This helps to educate others, recognize the team, and slowly move Lean forward. 7) Employee involvement is critical. They know what tools they need. (after good training) they know what tasks need to be done to sustain, they know why it failed before - ask them. And then act on it. 5S, like all the Lean concepts/tools work. To me, the key is developing a deep understanding of the principles they are built on, then adapt the tool to your situation. I have found that a Lean mentor is invaluble. Hope this was of some help. Best of luck. Steve

11/11/2013 08:39 PM

Hi all, Thanks for your suggestions and inputs.

11/14/2013 06:54 AM

One thing to add on what Steve said. It seems that, in the past 5S was not implemented, 3S was. Many times the final two S's are overlooked. You must Standardize the process, make a check list that tells what needs to be replaced, maintained, cleaned, lubricated, etc.... Then you must Sustain the area with regular audits from a cross section of management, supervisors, and operators, to ensure that the final S is implemented.

11/18/2013 01:33 PM

If the Lean Manager is the one who is supposed to prevent the 5S state from falling back to it's original state the system will fail. The Lean Manager will be totally frustrated and burnt out in the end. 5S should be secured and locked in the organization by the daily management. There should be time available and there should be a system that enables all layers in the company to be in some way responsible for, and checking upon the state that the oranization is in. We are using a layered audit system with action cards and audit cards to do this. This way of layering audits is also called Kamishibai (Paper Drama). If you are interested I could make some pictures on how this works. But the system will only work if all management and supervisors are engaged. As soon as they fail to carry out their auditing tasks, operators will fail to carry out their 5S tasks. This has happened in a lot of organizations, unfortunately.

11/18/2013 01:33 PM

Hello Peng, Steve has given you a comprehensive list of things to do, in my opinion. For a bit more, see the attached article "Is There Muda In Your Methodology?" ~ Mike

11/19/2013 10:14 PM

Dear all, Again, thanks for all inputs that you guys have provided to me and I have been picking up points to

my list. To add few points, 5S could be the only activities that literally get everyone in the plant involved, from managers to operators. Good 3S provides good impression to customers as it is visually creditable when it run well in plant. As suppose to compared to other kaizen improvements in SMED, Poka yoke or Line Balancing etc where customer may have not noticed if not deliberately illustrated. Hi Rogier, yes, if you can I would like to have a copy of Paper Drama methods. You are able to private massage me? Thanks a lot.

11/26/2013 06:01 AM

Hi Rogier, I would appreciate your comments and pictures on this (Paper Drama) As a Lean manager, it is critical to deal with people in terms of 5S. It is so easy to get frustrated! Thanks Pablo Martin

11/26/2013 06:01 AM

Thank you for posting this breakout of your experience with 5S implementation! I agree with all of the points you made and there were others I found very helpful. Having a Lean mentor is very invaluable in the Lean journey. Thanks for being one on this post!

11/26/2013 06:01 AM

Hi Rogier, I am very interessted in this Kamishibai - Paper Drama. Please could you send me some pictures as you mentioned how it works. Please send it to following email address:

12/03/2013 05:45 AM

Hi Rogier, please send the paper drama pictures to Thanks a lot.

12/06/2013 11:52 AM

Hi Roger, could you please, send me a copy of your Kamishibai? I'm really interesting do to the fact, that I'm implementing too, in my company. Thanks a lot VP Email me at:

12/06/2013 11:53 AM

Hi All Just a reminder to please use private messaging when requesting a file be emailed. Here are instructions on how to do so: Thank you, Lory Forums Moderator

12/16/2013 06:57 AM

Hi all, I'm coming in this thread because of the word Kamishibai. I'm interested in this topic. Maybe I should start a thread about It. I'm astonished to read that kamishibai is connected to 5S. I'm not really sure that Toyota is auditing 5S with the help of Kamishibai. Kamishibai seems to me more about managing the standards of managers coming from outside the gemba. Rather 5S are audited by Team leader under carefull watch of group leader. Coming back to Peng's question :

how to justify 5S' tangible savings and how to convince top management the worthiness to continue 5S projects?

Well if 5s were conducted the right way, they should clearly show economic results, isn't it ? So it wouldn't be very hard to convince top management. Then the problem is not "How to convince top management?" but rather "How to conduct 5S the right way, with economic results ?" My feeling is that the web is 99,999% filled with shit about 5S, and that matter should be adressed clearly by qualified people at LEI / Toyota. In fact, when you really do the 2 first S, you can see that you are very close to Standard(ized) Work. My feeling is that they are closely tied. If I had an advice to give to Peng it would be either find the right way to conduct 5S with economic results, or start by 1x1 continuous flow and standard(ized) work. Emmanuel