Love and 5S

In yet another discussion on Linkedin the question was raised of how to sustain 5S long term. 5S are simple principles from Japanese tradition to maintain order, and keep chaos at bay. It is taught to them in their early education, supported by Buddhist, Confucian and Shinto teachings. It was brought from the home into the factory in the first half of the 20th century.

Later copied in the west, it is sold as a tool for business to help cut costs. Lamenting the difficulty in getting people to sustain 5S is a recurrent theme on LinkedIn.

My experience has been when you respect people and create a culture that allows them to feel pride and joy in their work, along with effective training people, LOVE it. 5S makes life easier, less stressful and more productive.

Quite frankly, it is much harder to get “managers” to spend time simplylooking™ where the work is done, engaging with those who the work,and learning not simply shooting from the hip; as if opinion were the same thing as knowledge.

“Lean”and “kaizen” implementations that are not based on great faith in human beings and their untapped potential are nothing more than another top down command and control paint by numbers magic pill.

I am not saying anyone reading this does, but if you do, why assume managers are the only ones who care? Are better off telling, cajoling, rewarding (bribing) people to do what, is in their genes when shown respect, love, and a few simple principles?

When we treat people as widgets, things, machines, or possessions, it is thinly veiled contempt. We insult their in born passion for work that matters, and we insult their dignity by offering bribes as “rewards.”

Rewards and goals give management the illusion of control. Only capable systems, an understanding of the natural laws of variation, a compassionate understanding of the people you work with, the discipline to test assumptions in the forge of reality, motivated by love for those you work with, and those you serve, leads to real control.

If you don’t have faith in people in your bones, you become a slave to constant policing, and can never really leave work and enjoy life.

About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.

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