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
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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