Continuous Improvement is challenging. It seems some days as if there just isn’t enough time, and although there is a never-ending list of improvement opportunities some days you just can’t seem to get anything done. But there is something you can do about it. I call it the “5S Fly-by”.
A 5S Fly-by can be done by anyone. My preferred time is during a Gemba Walk, but there is really no limit on when you can do one of these. It is an opportunity to talk with the people who do the “real work” in your organization; it is an opportunity to get a feel for what is going on and what you can do to help. This has the added benefit of not only improving CI buy-in, but also of making it important.
Below are a few ideas to help you get started. I’m sure you will think of many of your own to add to the list; I hope you will leave a comment below and share your ideas with the rest of us.
Waste reduction – excess travel/motion.
Talk for a few moments to one of the team members. In a manufacturing environment, this could be one of the people working on the assembly line. Ask him/her if they have everything needed for the day’s work, or if anything was missing at the start of the shift. Usually the answer will be “yes”. Ask them where they’d like to find the item when they start work, if they’d mind if you used some tape to mark off the proper location, and if its ok for you to pass their new procedure along to the appropriate leadership for training purposes. This could lead to a Point of Use installation, or any number of other improvement projects.
Waste reduction – underutilization of resources.
Talk to one of your team members about his/her job. Ask if there’s anything they’re doing that seems like a waste of time; if there is a more efficient way that they could do it (if only anyone in management cared to ask).
Safety (the “other ‘S’”)
Ask one of the team members what has changed about his/her job in the recent past. Often, people will cope with changes in their processes (equipment broken/missing, raw materials from a new supplier with different characteristics, etc.) without seeking assistance from management. Maybe they want to be seen as resourceful, or maybe they have fear of being seen as a complainer. But by engaging them on this topic you are 1) making their job easier, and 2) eliminating possible sources of safety hazards that might have otherwise gone undetected until it was too late.
Again, these are just a few ideas to get you started. The real benefit is that these actions improve Continuous Improvement buy-in from the people who you need it from most. It empowers them to improve their work and it gets them thinking about little changes that they can initiate on their own.
What are some other ways that you use to sneak in a little process improvement throughout your day?