Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
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Applying 5 S Methodology, the cornerstone of Japanese lean manufacturing strength in our daily lives – Part 4

Thursday July 31st, 2008 by fathersez

Continuing our series on 5 S….. as consistent practice and application of the Japanese “5 S” Methodology helps to form a strong foundation for our journey into continuous incremental improvements in our workplace, homes and lives.  We have already covered:-

- SEIRI 

- SEITON  and

- SEISO

The fourth of the “5 S” is SEIKETSU or STANDARDIZE.

The word “standardize” has many meanings. I follow the version that refers to having standards for every process that we do in the office, home or for ourselves.

Examples may be that all supplier files are red. All keys are in duplicated in 3 sets, one for use by the person, 1 set with Administration Department, and the last set as a final back up with someone else. Uniforms are another form of standards. All dangerous liquids being marked with a standard logo that does not allow for any mistaking it for Sprite.   Color coding, etc.

Whilst this step does not allow for much improvisation or so called individualism, it allows for very easy understanding of work functions if people have to be shifted around or if people leave.

(Improvisation and improvement is more than adequately allowed for in other parts of Kaizen. Still for Kaizen to truly grow and flourish, all players should have their 5 S well mastered.)

Imagine an organization, much like the colonies of bees or ants. Each member knows exactly what to do, when and how. All according to the standards that exist for the colonies. And many are the praises of efficiency these colonies get.

In the home, this standardization can be extended to storage of items, (including filing of documentation), buying and storing of food stuff. Having standards will help us track down abnormalities in food packaging (stuff that the marketing guys do to “fool us”. Get Rich Slowly wrote an excellent post on this.) 

Perhaps some of the preachers of better living may say that variety is the spice of life. Thus looking down at process like SEIKETSU.  Take a different route to work everyday, try a different type of food, etc.  

I think there is a place in life for both of these kinds of thinking. Some processes which are repetitive in nature may flourish based on 5 S, whiles others may be better looked at from the variety point of view. 

We just have to make our individual choices.      

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