5S Signs vs Adoption  

I have a new theory: the more posters, stickers, and banners promoting 5S, the lower the level of adherence to 5S principles. You can extend this idea to pretty much anything a company deems important: if leadership is promoting respect, or innovation, or safety, you'll probably find sexual harassment charges, me-too products, and lots of worker's comp claims.

Point #10 of Dr. Deming's 14 Points states, "eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force." (Yes, I'm selectively quoting. This point is in reference to defects and productivity, but I think that the basic argument holds true.) Instead, "institute leadership" (point #7) to get the results you're looking for.

People are social animals. We take our behavioral cues by observing leaders' actions, not from reading the wallpaper. If you want 5S, you've got to live 5S. I know of no better example than the president of a $100M contract manufacturer of electronics boards, who gets on his hands and knees and cleans the floors of his company. Every. Single. Morning. (Check out this photo from Kevin Myer's excellent post):

Presidential 5S

If you want 5S -- or respect, or cost savings, or safety, or whatever -- first, get on your knees and start doing it yourself.

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