How To Lead 5s Training Without Looking Crazy
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How to Lead 5s Training Without Looking Crazy

As soon as anyone in the workplace introduces a new magic bullet catchphrase, the sceptics emerge. Why wouldn't they? If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, right? This is a logical and natural response to any set of cure-all slogans that get tossed around with little substance or context. The problem is that there are many gems of knowledge hidden in such systems. If you dismiss them outright due to hype and cluttered understanding, you might miss something that could really help you. This is often the case with 5S, the Lean Manufacturing technique for workplace organization. It’s up to the instructor who leads 5S training to reach past the basic concepts and make the gems of knowledge visible and relevant.

So let’s get this out of the way - 5S stands for Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain - There, I said it. That basic definition might be easy to remember, but does it actually help anyone on its own. Does it even mean anything to the uninitiated? It probably doesn't, so it’s best to move past the definition of 5S and into application as soon as possible. How do you do this? Simply take those 5 slogans and turn them into 5 verbs. In other words, stop talking about 5S and actually do 5S. That’s the best training that money can’t buy.

When it comes to 5S training, you need to back up all the promotion of the system’s potential benefits with actual results as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the less time you spend in training sessions that people think are a waste of time. In fact, if you don't put the principles into action, training is a waste. Training is a means to an end, not the ends in and of itself. So before people get bored or start thinking you’re a loopy 5S zealot, get out on the shop floor and make improvements.

Get rid of items you don’t need, put everything where it belongs, and then decide if you got it right. You won’t get it perfectly the first time, so why wait? 5S training is an ongoing process of incremental improvement. All companies have different needs, and there will never be a perfect 5S system. If you are actively engaged in evaluating and changing your standards, you will get closer to the best possible of definition of 5S system. You have nothing to lose as long as you keep changing for the better.


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