Nov 18 2014

Several discussions over the last few days have centred around standards and more specifically, enforcing them. One of the issues that is repeatedly discussed is to what extent. There are all sorts of standards that exist in any organisation. Most are written or documented in some form or another; photographs, footprints, actual standardised work, etc.

Making the determination as to what level should be enforced & to what extent is always interesting. The easy answer is all of them, and arguably the right answer as well. But in many organisations, the “custom & practice” over the last few years or decades has been to allow many to be ignored or at least interpreted differently than originally intended. Which of course makes it even more difficult to start enforcing them again, after so much time not enforcing them.

One of the easiest, and yet often most ignored standard is that of the housekeeping/workplace organisation/5S of the facility. While the exact standard is often simply expressed & clear enough to not leave much open for interpretation, the application is often less rigid. The problem here is that if we allow interpretation or worse, for people to just ignore the standard that is obvious & right in front of us, then the question is raised regarding what other standards that are less obvious are also being ignored or interpreted individually.

While the core benefits of 5S or workplace organisation are generally listed as a safer environment, a better quality product or service, a happier workforce and others, a less obvious benefit is the clear message it provides in terms of the level of standards enforcement that exists in an organisation. A better adherence to the standard, will normally be associated with better adherence across the board. When the standards which are obvious & visible are ignored, who knows what else is being ignored?

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