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Many organizations make some early 5S improvements then slide back into their old ways while others maintain their 5S programs for years. What separates the two? An unsuccessful implementation of 5S is typically an incomplete 5S program. There are three keys to successfully sustaining 5S: commitment, top management support, and performance measurement.

 Commitment. The first key is to commit to all five S's. This may appear obvious, but a well-meaning executive once told me, “We are just going to implement three S's for now; we aren't ready for all five.” The fifth S, Shitsuke, actually translates more closely to “commitment” than “sustain.” According to Tomo Sugiyama (author of The Improvement Book), “Shitsuke is a typical teaching and attitude towards any undertaking to inspire pride and adherence to the standards established.” If your entire organization is not committed to 5S, your 5S program will be short-lived.

Top Management Support. Commitment is not possible without top management's visible support for the program. All employees must believe that the organization is committed to the program. One way for top management to get involved on a continuing basis is to conduct quarterly 5S visits to each work area to inspect 5S conditions and offer advice and support to employees. Another effective method for demonstrating top management support is to mandate and to participate in the visible promotion of 5S. Some ways to do this are:
• Designated 5S days. Select one day per month or quarter to emphasize 5S throughout the plant.
• Slogans. Select a 5S-related slogan, post it in public areas throughout the plant, pass out shirts with the slogan to successful 5S teams, etc.
• Public Announcements. In monthly or quarterly announcements and all-employee meetings, take some time to emphasize the importance of the 5S program.
• Seminars. Have employees participate in seminars throughout the year, including those that are 5Srelated.
Performance Measurement and Reward System. The third key is to measure 5S performance in each work area and set up a system to reward teams that achieve 5S success. Organizations with successful 5S programs measure their performance with weekly audits using checklists and score sheets. Audit results are posted in public areas. This creates an atmosphere of friendly competition and will help instill pride in the teams. This measurement should be combined with a reward system; most successful organizations offer monthly or quarterly rewards for teams in various 5S categories that range from movie tickets to cash bonuses.


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