Sunday, April 29, 2007

Designers beware: 5S Phase 4, Seiketsu (Standardize)

Welcome back to my series on 5S, the methodology to improve organization, order and cleanliness. In this article I cover the fourth phase, Standardize.

But first, if you’re seeing this article and haven’t read the previous four:
Introduction to the methodology
Phase one, Select
Phase two, Organize
Phase three, Clean

Phase four, Standardize

The purpose of this phase is to establish a clear standard for order and cleanliness, in order to maintain the results we achieved with the first three phases. It’s based on easily identifying an abnormal situation from a normal one. When you standardize you avoid:

- Going back to the previous conditions.
- Having work tools laying around.
- Having a disorganized work place that you have to organize again.
- Having people who after implementing Seiri and Seiso still accumulate office supplies on their desk.

And you ensure that:

- Items that don’t belong in the area are easily identified.
- The area is always organized.
- The time to find things is reduced.

Now for the steps:

Step 1: Define
There are several kinds of standards like:
- Oder standards.
- Cleanliness standards.
- Item location visual standards.
- Item quantity visual standards.
- Work place visual standards.

The word “standard” means how that particular item or area is when it’s in an ideal state. In other words, the standard illustrates the ideal state. This step is about defining how it’s supposed to be after you’ve organized and cleaned the space.

Step 2: Document
Remember I told you about documenting everything with your digital camera? Well, that’s because this would be the easiest way to show how your work space should look in an ideal state. You could also draw diagrams of where items need to be placed.

Here’s a picture of how my desk ended up once I implemented the first three phases. It was a lot better (Though not quite as good as it could be, but we’ll get to that in phase 5), so this became the first standard I implemented.

In this next example, see how it’s very easy to recognize when a folder is missing or in the wrong order?

Step 3: Train/divulge
Once you’ve set and documented the standard, you need to make sure that whoever needs to know about it, knows about it! If it’s related to your desk, then maybe you’re the only one you need to know about it. If the standard is of the supplies room, then make sure each person that uses it, knows it, understands it, and follows it. If it’s a picture, post it in a visible spot. If it’s an item quantity standard, post it near the items it relates to.

Now you can compare your current state with the standard and see if they match.

And that’s it for this phase!

But we’re not quite over yet! Meet me here next time to discuss Phase 5, Shitsuke (Improve).
All the best!

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