The fifth step in the 5S process is Shitsuke. Shitsuke means sustain and is sometimes called self-discipline. In the context of 5S, sustain refers to the commitment and self-discipline to maintain the previous four 5S steps – seiri (sort), seiton (sort), seiso (sweep), and seiketsu (standardized).

To effectively sustain, means there would never be an instance of an employee walking past trash on the floor without picking it up and throwing it away. The abnormality is immediately noticed and resolved.

Some people feel that the sustain step is redundant since if you are focusing on the first three steps, then Standardize and Sustain are not needed. Others believe that sustain is needed to remind us that 5S isn’t simply a one-time project, but a way of life that facilitates continuous improvement. That said, some believe sustain may actually be the most important step.

Why Sustain?
There’s a few reasons why sustain is important:

    1. Accountability: Most people are more likely to follow through with new, or difficult activities when they know that someone is watching them and also participating in the same activity. The expectations that you have with a workout partner is the same expectation they have of you, which is accountability. Even on days when you don’t feel up to it, you still go the gym because you know someone else is depending on you, and you expect the same consideration in return.
    2. Competition: From the sustain step, positive internal competition can also result as departments, areas, and employees constantly strive to raise the bar for performance. In fact, many companies drive the sustain effort with 5S contests and awards, which can further develop employee engagement.
    3. Improve: This may be the most vital result of the sustain step. After all, 5S is ultimately a continuous improvement process. Take the PDCA Wheel as a point of reference. The first three 5S steps, sort, straighten and sweep are covered in plan and do. The last two steps, standardize and sustain are covered in the check and act part of PDCA. The key point again, is that done right, 5S is not a “flavor of the month” project, but rather continuous improvement engine, that must be maintained to continue running.standard-deviation-formula
      These are just a few reasons why the sustain step is important rather than redundant.
Sustain Techniques
  1. 5S SQDC Metrics: One popular sustain technique is to link 5S scores to safety, quality, delivery and cost (SQDC) metrics. For example, you might link 5S and on-time-delivery and discover a positive correlation between 5S scores and higher on-time delivery.
    5S & On Time Delivery Regression.Your results may certainly vary, and regressions aren’t your only option here. It’s important to note that 5S and the impact it has on the business should be closely monitored just like any other existing KPI that you company has in place.
  2. Genchi Genbutsu: A very powerful sustain technique is for supervision and management to practice “Genchi Genbutsu” or “Go and see for yourself.” That is, supervisors and managers conduct routine daily checks to see what the problems are on the front lines and how they can support their employees to fix those problems.Standardized checklists can be particularly helpful in this effort, especially when an organization is just beginning its lean journey. When managers or supervisors find discrepancies, they should use that as a good opportunity to coach the employees on what went wrong. This way they can also come up with countermeasures to avoid the same problems from reoccurring.
  3. 5 Minute Cleans: Another good technique is implementing daily, fast, cleaning sessions, where employees are required to clean for a designated number of minutes every shift. Depending on your company, 5 minutes may be enough, or more may be needed. What’s more important is that all employees make cleaning and keeping things organized a part of their daily routine.
  4. Peer Audits: Audits conducted by peers are another powerful sustain technique, where least one time a month peers audit other employee’s work area. Keep in mind, there must be clear guidelines on scoring to avoid personal conflicts from arising. Audits are a fantastic time for employees to learn from each other and share best practices while offering constructive advice to one another.
  5. 5S Competitions: Carrying out a friendly 5S competition across the company between work areas can also be a good way to generate excitement and engagement around the 5S program. Winning areas might win a trophy, while losers might get a brown bag lunch with a supervisor, utilized for developing action plans for improvement.
  6. Perpetual Tour Readiness: The last technique is to always have your facility tour ready without any prior notice. In other words, regardless if you are going to have a VIP coming over in a short’s time notice, you should be ready. A practical way of ensuring you are always tour ready is to have your customers come over on a regular basis. Having visitors often will definitely have you Sorting, Straightening and Sweeping without fail.

Perhaps the most important advice to successfully sustain 5S, is to focus on continuous improvement. Recognize that failures will happen, and sometime improvement may feel elusive, but if you maintain self-discipline, it will come. To prevent entropy (disorder) from creeping in, we should work on small improvements every day. Ironically, doing so means you no longer have to worry about sustaining at all.