By January 10, 2007 0 Comments Read More →

Making it Easy to do the Right Thing

Here is a simple example that I think qualifies as a “5S” example, albeit a non-traditional one. This is a dirty beverage counter at an airport, see the straw wrappers and trash. It was dirty and messy when I walked up to it.

I think most people want to do the right thing. When I got a drink and a straw, I opened the straw and looked for a trash can. Couldn’t find one. There wasn’t a little trash can on the counter, as you see at some places, nor was there a hole in the counter for trash (ala Starbucks). I even looked for a trash can nearby on the ground, found nothing.

It was easier to just chuck it on the counter. I felt bad about it, but oh well. This mess creates extra work for employees (they’ve already outsourced the drink dispensing to you, the customer). It looks messy and creates a bad impression to customers.

Part of the 5S concept is to think about the tools and items that you need and that your employees need. In this case, somebody should have thought that a customer would want a trash can and should have put one in easy sight, in arm’s reach.

Sure, put tape around the little counter-top trash can if you want, once one is in place. Putting tape around things is just one aspect of 5S. The first step is to make sure the tools and supplies that you need are close by near the point of use. Making it easy for people to do the right thing will go a long way in getting the results you want (in this case, a clean counter).

As I walked away from the counter, I finally did see a trash can… hidden behind a corner of a wall in a spot that indeed couldn’t have been seen from the counter.

Are there examples in your workplace where tools and items your employees need aren’t in the right locations, where they are convenient for people to do the right thing?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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