The 5S program was devised in Japan in order to achieve a high degree of cleanliness and standardization on factory floors. This program gets its name from five Japanese words; Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain). When implemented, this program has the ability to make the workplace safer and more efficient, thereby increasing employee morale.
It is a good idea to implement 5S because this will help increase your company’s competitiveness. However, you are sure to find a few problems associated with implementing this concept. These problems generally arise from your employees’ resistance to change. This is a very human failing and you should take steps to address it.
1. Don’t implement this program without planning things carefully. Start by changing any one process, particularly one that is very visible. This will help build a lot of confidence in the process and will reduce resistance to future changes. Also, this will require less effort on your part. The logistics of making many changes simultaneously will be too big for you to handle.
2. Don’t push through very big changes. This can antagonize your employees and make them fear for the future. If you make changes in small increments, but maintain the momentum then you will be successful in the long term.
3. Communicate the importance of these changes to your employees. Only if you have their whole hearted co-operation will you be able to push through this program. People at all levels in the organization have to understand the importance of this program and have to contribute accordingly.
4. Don’t let systems revert to their original nature because of lack of follow-up. Invest time and money in a god training program and also in monitoring systems so that the changes are not forgotten or ignored. As a matter of fact, you will need to build on these incremental changes in order to take your company in a new direction.
As you can see, you need to have a great deal of patience in order to implement 5S in your organization. However, the results are well worth it. If you feel overwhelmed with the task ahead then it is a good idea to call in a management consulting firm to oversee the changes and set the right systems in place. You will be able to achieve a more efficient way of working and your customers will also notice the improvement in your products and services.