The Fundamentals of 5S

I coached high school basketball for 4 years.  A significant learning from this experience was the importance of the basics, or the fundamentals.  We won a lot of games because we rebounded better, passed better and had fewer turnovers than the other teams we played.  Every day in practice we worked on the fundamentals of blocking out to improve our rebounding, the fundamentals of passing to get scoring opportunities, the fundamentals of  how to avoid dribbling so that we could overcome trapping defenses.  Because we did the little things right, the bigger things fell into place.

Manufacturing has the same relationship with fundamentals.  Focusing on how we do things will reveal fundamental opportunities.  The idea is to eliminate self-inflected waste. Remember that even though we face competition from competitors who have lower labor costs, our strength is in our innovation and smarts.

  • How much time do you and your direct reports spend doing things that do not directly build or ship units?  By eliminating or reducing these activities we reduce cycle time and cost.  This is not about working harder, it’s about working smarter.
  • Do you know what you need to produce today to be successful?  If you don’t, it’s like driving with your eyes closed.  You are unlikely to reach your desired destination.
  • Have you ever been faced with dirt, waste, or ill prepared tools that you yourself left in the way rather than deal with at the time?  It is one thing to be angry because someone else did this to you, but doing it to yourself…
  • Failure to take responsibility.  Leaving a workspace in a less than desirable state for the next user.  I know that you don’t like it when it happens to you, so don’t do it to someone else.
  • Are you satisfied with your efficiency and effectiveness?  Satisfied people do not improve and grow, and are soon left behind.  Do you want to be left behind?

Think on this.  Excellent execution on the basics and fundamentals will lead to excellent performance overall.  My father told me over and over again to never let anyone out work me, or produce better results than me.  That advice has served me well.  I offer it to you.