Workplace Organization!


Why is Workplace Organization or 5S so important?

Can 5S help you to find what you need to do your job in 30 seconds or less?

Workplace Organization is a combination of two lean techniques, 5S and Visual Managem5Sent. When implemented as part of a lean program it can help any organization to reduce the amount of time its employees spend searching for parts, materials and equipment. After initiating a Workplace Organization project it is important to communicate so others understand what they need to know about it. Doing this will increase its integrity and effectiveness in achieving its main goal, which is the identification and eliminate of waste. The more people understand the process, the more they will participate in using it and this will help it to continue to improve.

Workplace Organization consists of 5S and Visual Management!

A 5S system can be implemented into any manufacturing, office or healthcare environment. 5S will quickly reveal the many areas of hidden waste. 5S is one of the best tools to identify and eliminate waste in the workplace. Every business can apply 5S principles throughout its work processes.

Visual Management is the process of managing a production system by implementing visual controls. The purpose of doing this is to differentiate between a normal and an abnormal situation. In other words, a defect must be obvious and recognizable as a consequence of using visual controls. Visual controls are techniques that shift an organization from optional to required behavior. This could be something as simple as placing a sign or painting a location square on the floor. A good example of a visual control is lines in a parking lot. If there were no lines , where would people park their cars? Probably anywhere they could find an empty space, right! The lines are there as a guide to show people how to align their vehicles in an orderly manner, which makes it easier for everyone to park.

Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) is the one of most difficult techniques to implement when an organization decides to embark on a journey towards becoming a Lean Enterprise. Why is this? Well, its because it requires a high level of internal discipline to implement Workplace Organization using 5S and Visual Management. Most organizations don’t usually have this kind of discipline, this is why so many of the fail when implementing Lean.  If an organization cannot implement a robust 5S system and sustain it, they do not have the required level of discipline to implement Lean principles overall.

To learn more about Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) and how to build the necessary internal discipline .

Which is the better system, Lean or Six Sigma?

six sigma

Getting beyond the hype is improtant whe it comes to implementing Lean and/or Six Sigma?

Which one first, Lean or Six Sigma?

The Lean vsix sigmas. Six Sigma discussion continues to roll on. Which is the best system for a business to adopt? Which one will deliver the best results? Which one gives fast results? What are the implementation cost difference’s between a Lean and a Six Sigma program? These are typical questions that get asked in this long running comparison between Lean and Six Sigma.

There are three factors that will influence any management team to decide on Lean or Six Sigma:

  1. Complexity of the business processes.
  2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.
  3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

1. Complexity of the business processes:

Any business with a high level of complexity in its processes will require an improvement program that can meet the demands of the  customer by using a more analytical approach. These types of businesses will use Lean to stabilize their processes and Six Sigma to reduce variation and improve quality. These types of organizations operate in a more academic or scientific level of industry such as chip manufacturers, software developers, etc.

Any business with a lower level of complexity needs an improvement program that can meet the demands of its customers by identifying and eliminating waste using basic Lean principles and problem solving tools. Kaoru Ishikawa stated, ” that 95% of all problems could be solved using seven basic quality tools.” These seven tools are:

  1. Flow Chart ( or Value Stream Map)
  2. Pareto Chart
  3. Scatter Diagram
  4. Cause & Effect Diagram
  5. Check Sheets
  6. Histograms
  7. Control Charts

Organizations that have successfully implemented Lean Principles use most, if not all of these seven quality tools as part of their Problem Solving toolkit.  In conjunction with the “5 Why’s”, the Lean toolkit can become a very effective set of tools to help identify and eliminate waste.

2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.

Traditionally, companies will spend less than 3% of their revenue on training. The Lean vs. Six Sigma discussion raises a legitimate question: “How much does it cost to implement each system?” Well one thing I know for sure is that Lean is a much cheaper system to implement than Six Sigma. Why is this? Six Sigma requires specialist training to develop a core group of green and black belts to run projects. This training is much more complex and expensive than teaching your employees to understand Lean principles and how to apply them. So, why do companies adopt Six Sigmas if it is more expensive to implement than Lean?

It is easy to answer this question by using the comparison I used earlier in this article. “If a business can improve its process using seven basic quality tools and lean principles, why would they want to implement a Six Sigma program?” I think the answer is obvious, they would only do this if they had complex processes or were influenced by the hype that Six Sigma is the ultimate silver bullet to solve all of their problems and improve performance. Lean is easy and relatively much more cost effective to implement compared to the overall cost of a Six Sigma program.

3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

In the end it really does not matter how much a business pays for any system if the management team lacks the discipline to implement any of their improvement initiatives. During the 27 years I have been working in the Continuous Process Improvement field, it is amazing how many companies do not execute their own strategic or tactical initiatives. The best plan in the world is useless unless it is converted into action. The cost of training employees to understand Lean or Six Sigma in one thing. However, the cost of taking several employees away from their daily productive work to participate in an improvement team and their ideas are not used is the worst kind of waste.

To summarize the article, I would recommend that any company start their Continuous Process Improvement journey by first implementing Lean principles and the seven problem solving tools. Employee training can be done on-site or online.  If you’re interested in signing up for a free access to Lean training, click here. When business processes have been stabilized through the application of Standardized Work using Lean princples, then and only then would I personally consider implementing a six sigma or a lean six sigma program.