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Lean in New Zealand

by Mark Graban on March 29, 2006 · 3 comments

New Zealand’s source for business, stock market & currency news on Stuff.co.nz

Here is a decent lean overview, which includes a visit by John Shook to some New Zealand companies.

One quote strikes me:

The first step at both factories was to tidy up the workplace. Mr O’Halloran says one of the biggest causes of wasted time is searching for what you need to do a job.

Keep that in mind when you are working on 5S. As it implies above, the goal of 5S isn’t just to be “clean” and “tidy.” Rather, the goal of 5S is to eliminate waste and to make problems immediately apparent.

At a previous job of mine, some people thought 5S meant you had to label everything. Putting a sticker/label on a PC monitor that says “monitor” was pure waste. Everyone knew it was a monitor. It’s not that they were labeling the location of said monitor, they were identifying it as such. The operators thought it was silly, so we started peeling up the wasteful labels.

Another tip – if your operators think something is silly (such as labeling “phone”, “printer”, etc.), they might be onto something.

That was a “lightbulb” moment for me when I realized that some misguided 5S practices could be “muda” in and of itself. If the tape outline you’re putting around something or the label you’re putting on something doesn’t help reduce waste, then that activity itself is probably waste.

Have a good lean day.

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Mark Graban 2011 Smaller Lean in New Zealand leanAbout LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services for KaiNexus.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jp March 30, 2006 at 1:44 am

Yep, saw that 100 times at my last company. It’s a great example of how we focus on using “Lean tools” without understanding the greater context.

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2 Richard Steel October 24, 2008 at 8:13 pm

In my book, which of course is yet to be written…%s is not a tool,it is a way of life. Back in my days at Unipart(UK)wheilst working with Dan Jones, I once penned a magazine article about how I applied 5S principles to the laundry process…maybe I should dig it up again!
Hands up who uses 5S at home?

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3 Mark Graban October 25, 2008 at 11:00 am

Hey Richard — I use 5S in a somewhat informal way in my kitchen. I don’t put tape around everything, but I rearranged stuff so my knives are in the drawer above the cupboard with the cutting boards, which are all below the spot where I tend to chop and prepare food. No more walking back and forth across the kitchen like I had to in the old layout.

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