Archives for category: 5S

I went to the dentist today. This is the first time in over 6 years. I know, I know. Every 6 months. I felt bad for the dental hygienist but it was a great forrm work out. Anyway, they wanted to do x-rays and they put the film holder in my mouth with a circle on the end. The picture is below. When I asked what it was for they said it helped line up the camera with the film. I thought it was a cool idea. I think it is called a Rinn. It seemed faster than I remember though I wasn’t timing it in the past. I wonder how many images had to be redone because the film didn’t line up with the camera.  I was also wondering how else this concept be used. Could this help with packaging materials that need to be centerlined but the operator can’t see or reach the material due to guarding or confined space issues. What other applications can you think of for a device that lines up a tool you can control and a mating piece that you can’t?


On a previous post, I mentioned that I couldn’t find a situation that Continuous Improvement didn’t help but I looked back at some of my notes from other companies and sites and did come up with one area where CI has limited impact. This is when there is a dysfunctional team running a site or process. I have run into these environments a few times and I think I need to be more specific when I mention a dysfunctional team. This is related to trust, leadership and ownership.

A trust issue is when process / site leadership does not trust the front employees or vice versa. This environment creates inefficiencies due to Auditing for “wrong” behavior, Stand up meetings turning to blame games and holding things back for both parties. I have seen this in union, non-union and “High Performance Work Teams” as well. This also turns supervisors and the middle team into a confused mess and ultimately short term employees

Leadership means that one will lead the team. The whole team. All the time. I have found the biggest issues around this are when the site / process leadership start thinking they are CEO’s instead of team leaders. This can be witnessed when leaders are in their offices instead of the processes. Meetings in conference rooms instead of production floors. Talk about why we can’t get something done instead of what can be done. It is subtle and sometimes needs outsiders to see how bad it is.

Ownership is that the team is together and knows that the team determines the results. The term team isn’t leadership or supervision or front line. It is and. This means the blame is shared just as much as the glory. It is recognizing individuals and turning that performance into subprocesses so that everyone can be a hero. It stops the excuses and supports standard work. If Tony fails, we all fail. It is the responsibility to state that Tony and John and Jenny all work together to find the one best way and they all do it the same way – Their way. Not managements way, not Tony’s way, the way.

In these type of environments, CI work can be very challenging and the basic ideas of 5S and standard work don’t have a foundation to work from. When I have been confronted with this type of environment my recommendation is to step back and reassess what the site or process really needs. That can be hard because it may be as simple as a mirror.

There is an increase drive to eliminate reports in large organizations. So much time spent putting them together and who is looking at them let alone is there anything actionable being address or even triggered. It goes without saying that as systems gain the ability to track more, the more is usually noise not signal. I have been in meetings and discussions about rationalizing reports but I find that the discussion looks at quantity and who receives it. All good stuff but I think there are other questions that need to be asked.

What are the metrics and information that drive the business? This is a different question than do you use this report and, if so, what do you look at. Driving the business and the risks to that business are the only items that should be tracked. This type of discussion, across the organization, will create metrics that everyone shares and needs to be focused on. This takes longer and multiple parts of the organization need to be at the table but this will create a discussion and understanding across the organization. Total Landed Cost is one that can unite multiple parts of the team. This will create better meetings and better decisions across the supply chain. This will eliminate 50% of the reporting requirements and streamline discussions.

How much time and/or resources are required to generate these reports? This is better than discussing the number of reports or different types. This recognizes the fact that reports aren’t free and that making them “personalized” for each “leader” is a waste. How many times have you experienced someone stating that they focus on this set of metrics or I like mine in columns versus rows? Does the leader have to defend this to the wider organization? Do they work with their peers to find the format that works? Rarely. What work does this eliminate? This is a question I ask before I put together any report. If it is going to be business as usual, I recommend that the report does not get developed.

What are you going to do with the information? What is actionable? This is better than what do you do this report. So many reports are related to FYI reports or nice to know. I know there are reports that leaders think are actionable. “Johnny, this number stinks. Fix it.” That is not actionable. Actionable means that you having triggers that once they are reached, there are corrective actions and countermeasures as well as root cause analysis that need to set up to support the report.

The report problem needs to be solved but not by making them easier or doing fewer of them. You need to decide what is important, track it and develop improvements when needed.


I was working on a couple of projects related to one specific piece of equipment and the surrounding area. The team worked on the area and removed many items that were either not being used or were defects or unnecessary items. We had cleaned up the work space though it wasn’t to the standard 5S deployment and visual management so we still had some work to do.

Once arriving at the site and work area I saw this:
5S by any means necessary

Now, there had been some resistance to painting squares where items were stored but I had not seen this type of “Set in Order” and “Standardization” deployed in any other sites that I had worked. Now this was not the area we were working on but it was an adjacent one and the fan did not move and we always knew, within the length of the chain, where it would be. This may be one of those times where the spirit versus the letter of the law may have gone awry but there was definitely some cross-pollination of the concepts across the site!