Saturday, May 05, 2007

Designers beware: 5S Phase 5, Shitsuke (Improve)

Welcome back to my series on 5S, the methodology to improve organization, order and cleanliness. In this article I cover the fifth phase, Improve. If you’ve made it this far, allow me to congratulate you!

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

Phase five, Improve

The purpose of this phase is to maintain the achieved conditions and establish new goals for improvement. When you improve you:

- Keep the order that you achieved during Seiton.
- Items return to their assigned place.
- Hardware and workstations are cleaned regularly.
- People enjoy a great work environment and are proud of their places of work.

And the steps:

Step 1: Redefine
You’d establish a standard, right? Now go back to the questions you asked yourself during phases 1 and 2 and ask them again against your current standard. Is there anything that can be done better? Something that doesn’t need to be in the work space?

Step 2: Document
Once you’ve gone through the questions again, see if the standard changed. If so, document again, take a new picture and post it in a visible place.

Here is a picture of the final standard for my desk, though I later on replaced the CD burner for an internal drive. Where are the pens you ask? Neatly stowed away in the drawers.

As a bonus, here I’m showing you a picture of my current desk, still applying the 5S philosophy.

This is my pencil box. It includes only what’s needed. Black, blue and red pens, a pencil, a highlighter and a calendar (Though now that I think about it, does the calendar need to be there? I have one in my computer dashboard… hmm…)

Step 3: Audit
Ok, so by now everybody in the organization has their standards. It’s time to audit their implementation. How to measure and evaluate progress is really up to the team and the criteria they want to apply.

Here’s an example I’ve used to audit offices. We did it weekly, for about a month.

Criteria to evaluate in each step:

I haven’t selected anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve selected some things (Earns 2 points).
I have only what I need (Earns 3 points).

I haven’t organized anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve organized some things (Earns 2 points).
Every item has and is in its place (Earns 3 points).

I haven’t cleaned anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve cleaned some things (Earns 2 points).
My work place is clean (Earns 3 points).

I haven’t standardized anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve established the standard (Earns 2 points).

I’ve improved the standard once (Earns 1 point).
I’ve improved the standard twice (Earns 2 points).
I’ve improved the standard three times or more (Earns 3 points).

Here’s an example of an Excel table to record and count the points:

After counting the points the person gets a card:

Red card, if the person earned between 5 and 10 points. There’s big room for improvement here.

Yellow card, if the person earned between 10 and 12 points. There’s still room for improvement.

Green card, if the person earned between 12 and 14 points. The work space is very neat and clean!

The idea is for the cards to be displayed in the work area so that maybe a little competition between the people in the team sparks up to get to green in the four weeks of the audit process.

And that’s it for this phase and for the 5S!

It’s a good idea to repeat the audit process in a few months, to see if the team keeps the new conditions.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and that your workplaces are areas of productiveness and pride!
All the best!


Carl Grint said...

As always, a well thought out and thought provoking entry.

I love the look of your desk, and the iMac desktop is such a glorious use of colour...did you design that yourself?

Carolina Ayerbe said...

Hey, Carl! Thanks so much for your comment. I regret to tell you that no, I didn't design that desktop... but I found it about seven years ago and I still use it today. I don't get tired of it!

Art4orce said...

what a inspiration you are everything I never think about on your blog
you are a dream to a designer as bad I am in texas

Anonymous said...


I like this post very much. It help me to solve some my work under my director’s requirements.

Apart from that, below article also is the same meaning

5S implementation

Tks again and nice keep posting

Carolina Ayerbe said...

Thank you for the comment, John!