Sustain! The fifth S of the 5S

Sustain! The fifth S of the 5S

(Shitsuke, 躾, according to Wikipedia)

Whether you look at Hirano or the Wikipedia article on the 5S Approach, the last pillar or practice is the hardest Shitsuke, 躾 which the Wikipedia article translates as Sustain, while Hirano translates it as Discipline.

Let‘s once again have a look at the implementations that are listed in the Wikipedia article:

  • To keep in working order
  • Also translates to “meaning to do without being told”
  • Perform regular audits

These factory related implementations seem to translate quite easily into practices that are also known from agile software development processes or the teachings of clean code development or pragmatic programming, but are they really?

To keep in working order for example can be nicely mapped to practices like continuous integration (the practice, not the tooling) or the “no broken window rule.
Performing regular audits is at the heart of almost every agile method – be it as a retrospective or as a operations review- (as long as you don‘t call it a post-mortem).

But in my opinion and experience this is only part of it. The hardest thing about this pillar is that it is about discipline. About cleaning up even if I already worked late. About sorting things even when there is time pressure. About removing the mess I created while working while the sun is shining and the waves are luring. Agreeing on standards even though everybody seems to do it “almost the same way”.
About just really following through on the other four Ss.

And for me this is the most important yet hardest to master of the five “S”.

Till next time
  Michael Mahlberg

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