“Excellent start, slowed down a bit after 6 months, forgotten after 12 months”.

Does this sound familiar with respect to your failed 5S programme?

As Aster we come across many companies where a 5S implementation programme has failed. Whilst the reasons for failures might appear to be numerous on the surface, the root causes are usually the same. In this article we give you some ideas about how to ensure your 5S programme can be easily sustained.

Leadership – the project needs a dogged, determined and charismatic owner together with a cross functional team actively engaged in continuous 5S project activiries

Start Small – Run a pilot project, learn lessons from it and then move on

Empowerment & Accountability – Empower people by making them both accountable and responsible for elements of the 5S programme. Remove unnecessary red-tape and sign off procedures to give the team members more autonomy. Audit their progress

Awareness – Use company newsletters, team briefings and factory storyboards to keep the whole workforce up to date with progress

Dashboard Metrics – publish metrics on the key measures and ensure everyone understands their meaning

Reward Success – depending upon your company culture ensure those people who embrace 5S are recognised in some way by the organisation

Employee Involvement in developing audits, projects etc – we suggest you do not use a third party to carry out audits. Let the staff draw up their own audit sheets with some guidance. Remember change recommended from within the team often gets accepted by the team

Positive Re-enforcement – Red tag every day, daily check lists to be completed every day

‘Gemba Walk’ – the 5S Project Leader should walk the job every day to make sure standards are being maintained and also to see what new projects are underway to improve the work place further

Induction Programmes – train 5S as part of all new employees induction programmes

Create a 5S handout – to be issued as part of the induction programme

Create a forum for ideas – how does an employee get one of their ideas to be discussed at managerial level – develop a vehicle for publishing and discussing ideas

Time – Allow staff the time to work in small group based activities to make improvements

Budget – Allocate an auditable budgets to the improvement teams

We have yet to come across a 5S programme that has failed if the management team fully supports the programme and incorporates the advice in this article into their improvement plan.