Sunday, July 22, 2018

5S Lesson from the Japanese World Cup Team

In theory, the concept of 5S is simple:
  1. Sort-remove un-needed items from the area.
  2. Set-for those items that remain, make sure they have their own designated space.
  3. Shine-everyone is a janitor, keep the area looking pleasing to the eye...fresh paint, swept, etc.
  4. Standardize-work to make this "the way it always is" using a checklist.
  5. Sustain-engage management to take notice by auditing the area against the checklist.
Another simple way to think about Standardize is to think about the next person. Paul Akers of Fastcap explains this well when he talks about the company cafeteria, and how it is important to leave the table you just ate lunch on is "like new" for the "next guy". 

I suppose in a perfect world, this type of consideration doesn't need to be a "program" or a set of "S's", but standard operating procedure, how we are wired.

OK, so suppose you have a 2-0 lead over Belgium on the biggest stage in the world....World Cup soccer. Leading 2-0 with 25 minutes left in the game is like being up 25 points late in the 3rd quarter of the 2017 Super Bowl (sorry Falcon fans), or up 3 games to none in the American League Championship series in 2004 (sorry Yankee fans). Like the Falcons and Yankees, the Japanese World Cup soccer team collapsed on the field, and found themselves eliminated from the tournament. 

Of course, the devastated team, with their heads down, retreated to their team locker room and absolutely trashed the place. They punched holes in walls, left towels everywhere, got snotty to reporters who tied to interview them and got out of Russia as fast as possible. Wait, that's not what happened? Are you serious? You mean to tell me that the Japanese soccer team meticulously picked up the locker room, vacuumed it, left no trace they were even there besides leaving a thank you note (in Russian) for their Russian hosts? 

Japanese fans, after this heartbreaking loss,  spilled out onto the streets, looking to fight anyone who dared mock them, and turned over police cars and set dumpsters on fire. NO?!?! You mean to tell me the Japanese soccer fans stayed in the stadium after the debacle and picked up all of their trash and cups, leaving no trace they were even there?

5S is not about S's or checklists, it is about demonstrating respect! Respect for our company, respect for our equipment, respect for materials, and most important, respect for the "next guy". I am sure there was a group of human beings being paid to go into the locker room and into the stands to pick up towels, cups, trash, etc. Respect for humanity is putting aside ourselves long enough to consider these people. Imagine their faces when they walked in that locker room to clean up?

Thank you so much Japanese soccer and fans for such a demonstration of respect, humility, consideration and decency. 

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