Leaders' behavior must change first. I believe it is Einstein who said "Insanity is doing what you have always done and expecting different results." This couldn't be more relevant when it comes to sustaining 5S (or any improvement for that matter). 5S events and auditing systems are not enough. Sustaining 5S will ultimately require behavior change from every member of the organization, but it must start with the leaders. If you're not ready to do things differently yourself, don't expect much from anyone else. If you are, here are some things to do.
First: Identify the behaviors that will be required to sustain 5S. Don't trivialize this. You should spend time as a leadership team discussing and agreeing on what you want. It is also important that every leader agree to hold people accountable for the behaviors that you have defined.
Second: Tell and show people what you expect from them. This isn't enough but it's necessary. Communicate the expectations you have defined with great clarity and in different formats. Use all employee meetings, emails, letters, visual reminders, informal conversations, progress reviews, etc. This may seem like overkill, but it isn't. Behavior change is personal and only happens when people decide it is worthwhile. In addition, people will interpret your commitment to 5S in part by how much energy you put into it. A small amount of energy will be interpreted as a small level of commitment.
Third: Change your behavior. People will pay much more attention to what you do than what you say, so you must act in a way that tells them you mean what you are saying. This goes for the entire leadership team. If you walk by a tool board and something is missing, stop and insist that it be put in the proper place. Audits and steering committee meetings are not the tools to deal with non-conformance. Counterproductive behaviors need to be dealt with in person at the instant they are observed. If a manager or supervisor isn't dealing with behaviors, give them the choice to change and remove them if they make the wrong choice. In contrast, be sure to recognize and reward people who are doing the right things. Communicate examples of success with enthusiasm and offer praise to the early adopters.
All of this may seem like more work than it's worth, but it isn't. While the process of behavior change is front-end loaded and full of challenges, the returns on cultural change are enormous and almost impossible for your competitors to replicate. Also, keep in mind that behavior change doesn't just apply to 5S; it is required for almost any form of worthwhile improvement. In fact, I recently had the privilege of meeting with a leader who is making tremendous progress. He said "If you're not focused on changing behavior, beginning with yourself, you're faking it."
Received from PDG Consulting