5S is deceptively simple. On the surface it seems like common sense, but anyone who has tried to implement a 5S system knows that it's tougher than it seems. I've been asked to write about some common issues that we see organizations face and to share some solutions that have worked well. So here it goes.
The first issue that comes to mind is leadership. Specifically, leaders don't understand their role. Most leaders believe that 5S is a tool and that they can delegate responsibility for its implementation to a practitioner. While it's true that there's a great deal of blocking and tackling to be done during a 5S implementation, leaders play a critical role in changing the thinking of the members of the organization so that 5S can take root and grow. This can only be done by leaders, it cannot be delegated. Leaders must approach a 5S initiative just as they would any other change. Without their support and involvement, 5S is doomed. My advice to any leader contemplating 5S (or any lean initiative) is to first learn what is required from them. Peer groups, personal networks, online articles, and good consultants are all places where a leader can better understand what they need to do to make a 5S initiative a success. Study what it takes and learn from those who have been successful. There are thousands of mistakes that you can avoid if you just invest some time up front.
The article above was written by Steve Lage of PDG