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Get Lean In 5 Steps! - Part 5

Sustain to keep growing and flowing.

In the last issue, we discussed standardizing your business from how your desk looks to booking meetings and labeling documents. Having a standard for your business will keep you and your business on track to grow.

However, you need to maintain that standard or improve it. Time to implement some sustaining practices.

Fifth Step Shitsuke: Sustain / Self-Discipline

The final step of the 5S methodology is often translated as "Sustain" or "Self-discipline." In your business, you will be in the process of focusing on maintaining the improvements achieved through the previous four steps (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, and Standardize) and ensuring that they become ingrained as part of your business culture. Shitsuke is about creating a sense of ownership, responsibility, and continuous improvement for you and your team.

Here's how Shitsuke can be applied in a small business:

Training and Engagement: Regularly train and engage team members in the 5S principles and their importance. Encourage them to take ownership of their workspaces and processes. Foster a culture of continuous improvement by soliciting their suggestions for further enhancements.

Visual Management: As noted previously, use visual cues, such as labels, color coding, and signage, to remind you and your team members of the proper procedures and organization. Visual management makes it easy for everyone to adhere to the established standards.

Regular Audits and Inspections: Conduct regular audits and inspections to ensure that 5S principles are consistently followed. Create checklists and assign responsibilities for these audits. Encourage team members to report any deviations they observe.

Awesome Tip: Have a trusted friend or family member audit your desk or workspace. Have another business professional review your procedures. Sometimes another set of eyes can catch things we miss (that is why there are people who edit for a living)

Recognition and Rewards: No matter how small you are (solo or with a team of two others) it's good practice to implement a system for recognizing and rewarding team members (or yourself) who consistently adhere to 5S principles. Recognize and celebrate achievements in cleanliness, organization, and efficiency. This can motivate you and your team to maintain these practices. Who doesn't like a little treat now and then for good behavior?

Continuous Improvement: Stagnancy is the silent killer of any business. Encourage your team to suggest improvements to existing procedures or workspaces to foster an increased creative and productive team. Begin a process for evaluating and implementing these suggestions. This reinforces the idea that 5S is an ongoing effort to improve productivity and efficiency.

Leadership Example: You are a leader as a solo entrepreneur and when you add team members you are the example. By starting now with the 5S methodology for a lean business, you will be in the habit already to demonstrating your commitment to 5S principles. Consistently following the standards and participating in audits and improvement initiatives will help you build your business to be strong and flexible in any economic situation.

Feedback and Communication: You know how important communication is to any relationship business or personal. Maintaining open lines of communication with team members encourages them to provide feedback and report any issues or obstacles they encounter. Address issues promptly to keep the 5S system running smoothly.

Documentation and Training Materials: This is an often underutilized aspect of any business. Documentation and procedures, while often a hassle to create and update, are important. Ensure that your 5S procedures and guidelines are well-documented and readily accessible to you and your team members. This includes training materials, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and any other relevant documentation.

Long-term Planning: To keep moving you will need to develop a long-term plan for sustaining the 5S initiative. This includes setting clear goals for ongoing improvement and periodically reviewing and updating your 5S procedures as needed.

Shitsuke is crucial for ensuring that the benefits of the 5S methodology, such as increased efficiency, reduced waste, and a more organized workplace, become a permanent part of your business culture. It requires ongoing commitment, team engagement, and a focus on continuous improvement to sustain the positive changes achieved through the 5S process.

We have come to the end of the series on how to make your business lean and efficient. It will take time and many revisions to get your business flowing according to the methodology presented. This is a marathon, not a sprint. A good journey always starts with the first step forward. Hopefully, you have already begun to take the first steps and are well on your way to a better business.

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