Surveying the wreckage of my son’s bedroom after a rainy school holiday day – and actually the living room, kitchen and hallway if we’re going to be honest here – I made a resolution this week to start practicing what I preach. Time for some serious 5S action!
5S is a method of workplace organisation that describes how to achieve efficiency and effectiveness by applying 5 steps that all begin with S. Efficiency and effectiveness an aspiration – for now, I’d like to be able to put a foot down without stepping on Lego, and know where the ipad charger has gone. 5S should lead to a safer and more pleasant environment and one that encourages both self-management and team working. Bring it on.
Here are the steps and how they are applied
Sort – look at the tools, materials, equipment and information needed, and separate them into those used ‘frequently’, ‘occasionally’ and ‘never’.
Set (or straighten) – straighten things up, put the things used frequently easy to hand. Things that don’t get used frequently should be put somewhere else or thrown away. Decide how many items need storing, how they should be stored and where. These should be appropriately labelled to facilitate their easy access in the future.
Shine (or scrub) – Keep the things you use, and the environment you work in (or live in!), clean and tidy and appropriately maintained.
Standardise – design a simple way of working so that your tools and information stay sorted, straightened and shiny.
Sustain – keep doing it, stick to the system every day, regularly review things and celebrate effective methods of working.
We’re now at the ‘Shine’ phase and all is going well. There is now a place for everything and a happy afternoon has been spent reattaching tiny heads, hands and accessories to Lego minifigures. Standardise and Sustain are the most challenging aspects – how do we keep this up? Building it into our daily routine is a must, and I will be firm, even after a hard day at work talking to people about how to use 5S.
Riding high on the success of 3 of the 5S, here are some other Lean techniques to support Summer Holiday survival.
SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) – or Quick Changeover
Lean Lingo: This is one of the keys to the success of the Japanese motor industry. They worked on reducing the time it took to change over and set up production equipment from one part to another, to minimise ‘down time’ and maximise productive time. SMED refers to the target of doing this in a minute, or at least less than ten minutes!
Parental application: Reducing changeover time from one activity to another by making sure the gadgets are always charged and both shoes in a pair are present and available.
Heijunka – levelling
Lean Lingo: Levelling involves smoothing the volume of production in order to reduce variation. It focusses on the process running smoothly and consistently. By smoothing or levelling customer requirements over time, resources can be better utilised and continuous production can be ensured.
Parental application: Levelling out play dates by entertaining one guest-child at a time rather than having large ‘batches’ of children all around together. If other parents adopt this approach it has the added benefit of more reciprocated play dates at their houses!
Push and Pull
Lean Lingo: Pull production is a system where each process takes what it needs from the preceding process, when it needs it, and in the exact amount needed. In other words, the customer pulls the supply and helps avoid being swamped by items that aren’t needed at a particular time.
Parental application: Making homework happen when the ‘process’ (aka child!) is ready to do it, rather than trying to push them to do it before they are ready. Can this really happen?
The 5 Whys
Lean Lingo: A technique for discovering the root causes of a problem and showing the relationship of causes by repeatedly asking the question, “Why?”
Parental application: Because I say so.
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