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What is 5S?

5S is a process to achieve a safe, efficient and organized workplace.  It allows people to see if things are abnormal quickly, so they can address the issue.  It does not keep people from doing something.  5S just allows someone to see if something isn’t right quickly.

The Five S’s are:

  1. Sort – Decide what is needed and what is not needed.  Get rid of the things not needed.
  2. Straighten – Understand how things are used and put them in an appropriate place for the work space.
  3. Shine – Clean and label the area.
  4. Standardize – The work you have done is the new standard and needs to be kept that way.
  5. Sustain – The hardest part is not to let the work space degrade.  Put checks in place to keep the standards in place.

Quite often 5S is equated with being lean.  A large number of people believe that 5S is foundational to being lean. The thought is 5S is the first thing an organization must do to be lean.  That is not necessarily the case.

Something as simple as organizing the workplace can help improve the efficiency of many things you do.  I have seen 5S help gain large improvements with quick changeovers of machines.  Looking for tools always seems to be the biggest waste when breaking down a setup of a machine, so having the tools in a particular spot every time can help a lot.

5S is not just for the manufacturing floor.  It can benefit any work space, including in the office.  But you do have to be careful.  When it comes to 5S in the office many people get carried away.  They prescribe marking where the computer should be and taping an outline around the stapler at everyone’s desk.  This isn’t the purpose of 5S, so be sure to do 5S correctly in the office in environment.

Think of a NASCAR garage when doing 5S.  It is spotless.  The reason, so any drip from the car can be seen immediately and the problem can be addressed.  You can’t go too far with organizing your work place.

5S is hard work.  The hardest part is sustaining the work of the first 4S’s.  Sustaining the work takes discipline.  If the discipline is maintained the rewards of 5S can be great.

Good luck on your path to success with 5S.

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STK Restaurant Focuses on the Customer

Cosmopolitan_LogoA few weeks ago, I was in Las Vega, NV for a conference.  One night a colleague and I at the STK restaurant in the new Cosmopolitan Casino.  The food was phenomenal.  Just an incredible meal.

The meal is not the reason for writing about the restaurant though.  The service is excellent also.  But, the service wasn’t your traditional restaurant service.  It was choreographed to be efficient and provide the customer with incredible service.

Typical restaurant service, no matter how nice the restaurant, is to have one waitress/waiter and maybe someone different bring out your food.

Not at STK.  We had 2 waitresses and at least 3 servers.  That is a total of five people servicing us and the area we sat in.

There was NEVER any confusion about what was going on at our table and we were never asked the same questions twice.  In fact, everything ran so smoothly that we were almost done with our meal when I asked my colleague if she noticed the five different people serving us.

At one point, one waitress came up to our table and asked, “I know (waitress’ name) is getting you more drinks.  Is there anything else I can get you right now?”  They had communicated enough to know what one was doing for our table so as not to repeat it.  Keep in mind, they are doing this for a section of the restaurant.  Not just us.

As we finished our appetizer and had five minutes to chat, a server came over and asked if we were ready for our main course.  He did not ask if we were done with the appetizer.  He specifically asked if we were ready for our main course.  His focus was on what we, as the customer, wanted.  We replied, “yes.”  The server removed our appetizer plates and utensils.  Within 60 seconds, a second server was at our table setting the utensils for the main course.  Within 2 minutes of him leaving a third server brought our food out.  In 3 minutes our table was cleared, reset and food brought to us by 3 different people.

These are just a couple of examples of how the restaurant focused on the customer and serving their needs in a very efficient way.

The process guy in me asked the waitress at the end how they do it.  She said they have a plan and understand how long it takes for the food to be prepared.  They have a wall where the drink station is and communicate on an ongoing basis throughout the night where no one can see so it is seamless to the customer.

This was a great of example of Lean’s #1 focus…delivering value to the customer.  The seamless effort and great service along with the great food made it an incredible experience.