5S Plus 2

March 21, 2017

Many folks are familiar with the lean principle of 5S where the bottom line is: “Everything has a place and everything is in its place.” These steps originated in Japan as part of the journey towards a visual workplace. Translated they are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. A quick explanation of these would be: 1. Get rid of what you don’t need and keep what you do 2. Now you know what you have so organize it 3. Clean and inspect it so it works when you need it 4. Evaluate and improve, stay consistent where it makes sense to 5. Keep it up because it works. 5S is a proven methodology of creating and maintaining an efficient and effective work space. Over the years, we have evolved, the world has changed and we follow a continuous improvement way of life. In regards to 5S, we’ve added two more…

The Sixth S – Safety

The questions I get here are, “Shouldn’t safety be considered in all aspects of the first five S’s?” My obvious answer is yes but it needs to be emphasized more. I often hear that safety is a priority, yet it is frequently overshadowed by actions when the pressure is on. Lost time at work due to recordable injuries has been steady for the last 3 years in the State of California according to the Department of Industrial Relations, which is not progress (https://www.dir.ca.gov/oprl/Injuries/2015/2015Table11.pdf). These statistics tell us that what we are doing is not working well. Adding some energy in this direction to a successful, existing program will only help us improve what we all know is our greatest resource – people.

The Seventh S – Security

This addition includes two main categories of security: physical and intellectual or hard and soft. Physical security includes things like access to buildings, areas of buildings and specific rooms.  Questions that need to be answered are ones like, “Who has the keys to this lock?” and “What times should be people be in certain areas of the building?” Taking security and preparation seriously should include an Emergency Preparation Plan as well as mandatory recurring training for all employees. One good resource to keep you thinking about security was a video recently put together by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department titled “Surviving an Active Shooter” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFQ-oxhdFjE).

The softer side of security deals with information and intellectual property. This can include anti-virus software and firewalls, controlled access to files and documents based on need and restrictions of professional conversations. It can be as serious as ITAR and national security issues or as damaging as competition. I believe that behavior and culture are  key here. Many obstacles and roadblocks can be put in place to prevent and deter a breach in security but nothing is better than everyone’s awareness of potential and existing issues.

When implementing a 7S program at your workplace, either from scratch or modifying/updating your current one, here are some recommendations:

  • Plan this out; don’t just jump into it; this is not a “get it done” program.
  • Audit sheets should include all 7 S’s; this will provide the focus on the needed areas.
  • Stay aware of potential issues and hazards; fix them once identified.
  • Write or update your Emergency Preparation Plan and train with it regularly; it will pay off!
  • Make training fun and memorable, not another additional requirement.

These principles and techniques are not unique to any one industry, or specific area within any company. We can all be better organized and work more efficiently. If you need help with or have questions regarding any of these, don’t hesitate to contact Mike at the ACA Group @ ml@theacagroup.com

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