Almost everyone understands how a good 5S program improves productivity, quality, safety, and morale; and many understand that 5S is a building block for a successful lean transformation that goes way beyond cleanliness and workplace organization. However, most people I talk to don't understand how 5S can impact their top line, and as a result, miss out on a great opportunity.

 
A good 5S program requires good management. While potential customers may not fully understand how true this is, they will make assumptions about the quality of a company and its products based on what they see when they tour a factory or office. If you don't believe this, ask a purchasing manager what they look for when they make sourcing decisions. Of course they want the best possible price, but they also want a dependable supplier. One who won't get them called into the GM's office when a line is shut down because of a quality problem or a late shipment. Most buyers learn quickly that cost savings vanish when you start to add up the expense of a poor performing supplier.
 
A well organized workplace says you have your act together. You're a good manager that can get things done. Someone with pride and self respect. Someone who cares enough to make a safe, productive, and attractive workplace. Someone who can instill discipline. Someone who's dependable. These are the same characteristics that are required to achieve the lowest cost, highest quality, shortest lead times, and best delivery performance.
 
So how do you get your 5S program to increase sales? Create a workplace that gets a WOW every time.
 
If your 5S program is top notch, exploit it. Use it as marketing collateral. Communicate your organization's values of discipline and standards. These are things that your competitors can't copy because they're cultural. Your goal should be to get customers on a tour of your facility so you can demonstrate that you can achieve what most others can't. Use 5S to take market share from your competitors who don't make the effort or have the management skills to be successful.
 
On the other hand, if your facility isn't a showplace you should make it one. The message that you're sending to potential customers is not positive. The level of organization that people see is a reflection of your management skills. You need to do whatever it takes to get your 5S program on track.
 
Submitted by Steve Lage of PDG

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I'm sure it will be no surprise that the 80/20 rule applies to your readers as well. You have hit at least one major nail on the head and most folks don't like to consider that "we have seen the enemy and the enemy is us"! Not that we are intentional enemies but the extent to which we as managers resist our own change and growth is a mirror image of the lack of sustained growth/progress in our designated areas of expertise. Bring it on, we need to be reminded to continually repurpose ourselves and our work.
Great response Katie - on that same note, Humilty is an often missing virtue of managers. Effective managers habitually look in the mirror to see where they can improve both personally and within their area.
Thank you, David, you are so right. The two most important building blocks of success in any venture are humility and gratitude. We not only need to say that we also need to demonstrate it in our daily walk. Managing can be just a job, in which case a drag on our energy, or it can be a calling which energizes us and those around us every day. I am impressed with how simple the actual steps on the path to success really are....the thing that trips most of us is the discipline to be consistent and the courage to get out of our comfort zone. Hope your day is a reflection of your words...thank you for being there!

David Visco said:
Great response Katie - on that same note, Humilty is an often missing virtue of managers. Effective managers habitually look in the mirror to see where they can improve both personally and within their area.

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