Industrial Laboratory Problems with Production, Efficiency, and Flow. Continuous quality improvement is the focus of a quality based leader in an industrial QC laboratory, but laboratory leaders that are deficient in quality assurance knowledge can struggle with analyzing production, efficiency, or workflow problems. Major issues industrial QC laboratory leaders encounter are uneven workloads, poor work scheduling, lack of cross training, overstrained work activities, and inefficient wasteful processes (Reynolds, 2009). To combat these issues of poor laboratory efficiency and quality, assertive laboratory leaders may try to improve conditions by implementing an efficiency system, such as lean 5S. Problem recognition, by industrial QC laboratory leaders, is a valuable first step to continuous quality improvement. Insufficient understanding of the complexity involved in inefficient culture, the lean 5S system purpose, and change management leads to failure for most industrial laboratory leaders in sustaining a meaningful and successful lean 5S culture change.
5S Description as a Foundation to Lean,
and 5S Failure
5S is a five step system for altering the environment of an industrial lab that is inefficient, wasteful, and displaying poor quality into a lab that is organized, experiences smooth work flow of product and personnel, and is visually enhanced; as a result, bringing wasteful issues to the forefront for continuous improvement. The 5S system is a quality improvement development originating in Japan; unequivocally, the five S’s are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke (Hirano,1992); however, in the English version the five S’s have been given the names sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain (5S Supply, 2011).
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Each step of the 5S system works together. 5S starts with sort, where an industrial laboratory visually organizes and labels its entire inventory in groups of importance and categorical description; for instance, marking all laboratory equipment as essential, possible essential, and non-essential (Nilipour & Jamshidian, 2005). All non-essential items are marked with a red tag and then taken to a holding area for non-value added item disposal. Sort is the step of removing waste that reduces clutter and improves organization for moving on to the next step in the 5S system, set in order. Set in order is the orderliness step where all value-added inventory items are organized and properly labeled for easy use and access. Access to items is determined by how often they are needed or used; for example, frequently used laboratory equipment and tools should be kept close to the area of need, and less frequently used items can be stored away in a properly labeled area for easy discovery (Froehling, 2009). Organizational tools are implemented such as labeling cabinets and shelves, color coding equipment and tools, and outlining and labeling work areas. Organizing, labeling, and placing laboratory tools and equipment in their designated locations allow for ease of the next 5S step of shine. Shine involves cleaning the laboratory, removing dirt and grime, and making the lab shine. Cleanliness and orderliness provides an industrial lab environment for easily identifying and eliminating waste and non-value added items.
To make the 5S system part of everyday lab activities, the first three steps of 5S must become part of laboratory standard operating procedure; for this reason, the work needs to be standardized through work tasks (Froehling, 2009). Each employee of the lab must do his or her part in continually organizing, eliminating waste, and cleaning; subsequently, these tasks are done by implementing the fourth step of standardize. Once the 5S system is standardized, it must be reinforced through the sustain step which involves such activities as auditing, appraisal, and positive feedback; consequently, sustain is the step most practitioners neglect and do not fully implement, therefore leading to failure of this step. According to Hogg (2005), the sustain step, of the 5S system, is where the majority of 5S failure occurs.
There are those that consider the 5S system as basic housekeeping, and if a practitioner were to look at the first three steps of 5S, it would be (Eaton, 2000). What the laboratory leaders fail to recognize is the true application of all five steps of 5S as the foundation to a lean laboratory and as a permanent culture change to a lab that has operated in the past as inefficient and wasteful. For example, if an industrial laboratory has been working for 10 years as inefficient, then inefficiency would be customary and the standard engrained in that laboratory culture. Because of this history, it would take more than housekeeping to break down the cultural barriers existing in this laboratory work environment to improve efficiency and quality long term. If 5S is labeled as housekeeping by laboratory leadership or upper management, then the 5S quality initiative most certainly falters (Hogg, 2005).
5S as a Culture Change, and Change
It is important for industrial laboratory leaders to realize that 5S implementation is more than housekeeping. 5S is a change in the following three areas; work flow of product and personnel, functioning of the lab in terms of inventory and equipment, and standard operating procedures and daily activities. Understanding the changes that take place through the implementation of the laboratory 5S system is crucial knowledge for laboratory leadership. 5S is not a quality tool, but a lean quality system that requires change from all industrial laboratory personnel. According to Shil (2009), it is crucial for laboratory leadership and upper management to acknowledge lean 5S as a culture change to the organization, and not a simple task performed periodically.
Now that the 5S system has been established successfully as a change in culture it is important for the 5S facilitator to understand the intricacies of implementing change, and sustaining the intended change as needed with lean 5S. The important issues needing to be addressed when implementing change are leadership support, employee resistance, and change reinforcement. Leadership support is very important to start the 5S implementation, so laboratory personnel must recognize that company management is serious about the changes being put forth, and feel confident in management to provide the resources and support that is needed to make the changes materialize and endure. Employee resistance can be a huge obstacle to the implementation of change; therefore, leadership cannot ignore resistance and must do all it can to change resistance to acceptance (Obrien, 2008). Engaging the employee is the first step to breaking down this barrier, and engagement is accomplished by effective communication and employee involvement. Communication is important for educating laboratory personnel on the reasons for the proposed change, and for their understanding of the root causes of laboratory inefficiencies that brought on the need for change. Effective communication brings a positive light to the employees’ perception of the change, gives them an understanding of the needed change, and starts the breakdown of resistance (Society for Human Resource Management, 2007). The next important aspect for leadership in employee engagement is to involve the laboratory personnel in the decision making and implementation planning of the 5S system. Involvement in the change gives the laboratory personnel a sense of ownership in the system, and continues to deplete the remaining resistance to change. According to Gallup Business Journal (2012), engaging employees builds passion within the workforce and that passion can turn employee resistance to employee innovation and promotion of change.
Once a change has been implemented it is not necessarily secure; consequently, this uncertainty is a third reason 5S practitioners fail to sustain the intended quality improvements that lean 5S is meant for. 5S is a dynamic system that needs to be managed and measured. Most failure of 5S occurs in the fifth step of sustain because laboratory leaders lose focus on the 5S system. Because standards are in place and the laboratory is clean and organized, leaders think the laboratory will continue to operate this way. This thought process is a big mistake and causes the 5S system to deteriorate and result in laboratory personnel losing initial enthusiasm for the lean quality initiative. According to Bevan (2011), the major factor in successful change is not putting together a plan or understanding the change, but implementing and sustaining the change, yet many change leaders assume initial change will stick, therefore neglecting to preserve the change. Failure of the 5S system is not only a waste of resources, money and time, but also a loss of opportunity. The 5S system is the foundation of a lean laboratory, and if 5S fails it can result in an increase in laboratory personnel change resistance for any future lean initiatives. Understanding the intent of 5S as a culture change and demonstrating a clear understanding of the complexities of change management practice is extremely beneficial for any 5S practitioner.
Change Management Success, and the
ADKAR Change Management Model
5S is not a laboratory housekeeping task or quality tool; on the contrary, 5S is a lean system that requires culture change in the industrial laboratory. In order for a successful implementation and sustainable 5S culture change in an industrial laboratory, a change management model can be extremely important and vital for planning, educating, implementing, and sustaining the quality initiative. A change management model provides the structure that is missing from the 5S steps for successful and sustainable change. Research shows that change, such as 5S, breaks down due to poor planning and leadership, employee resistance and human resource neglect, and insufficient reinforcement of the change in culture (Song, 2009). One such change management model that has proven success is the ADKAR change management model developed by Jeffrey Hiatt from the Prosci Learning Center.
The ADKAR change management model consists of five elements that build off of each other, and focus on important areas of change; such as, evaluation, management leadership, employee engagement, training, and reinforcement (Hiatt, 2006). Although some industry professionals may prefer an alternative change management model, the ADKAR model was chosen for its simplicity, structure, and ability to implement change ranging from change in individuals to more complex company-wide change.
The ADKAR change management model has five elements in its structure, and the five elements are:
Awareness Element of the ADKAR Model
The element of awareness consists of some very important aspects in providing a solid foundation to a change initiative like lean 5S. One aspect is the ability to evaluate the organizations openness to change, and provide information for evaluating each element of the ADKAR model. For instance, determining how aware the organization is on its need to change, if management supports the proposed changes, and if the change has been communicated to the employees. Evaluation is a good starting point in determining which element of the ADKAR model is the weakest in respect to the organization making the changes. Evaluation could answer important questions like:
What is the desire level of the employees to making this change happen?
How knowledgeable are employees on the new processes and systems intended from the change?
Are resources and workforce available to enable the laboratory to implement the changes?
Is there a process for reinforcing the changes, and is the laboratory able to sustain the new systems and processes long term?
Evaluation using the ADKAR change management model provides 5S leadership with a planning resource for making a strong plan prior to beginning the 5S system implementation.
Awareness also promotes the importance of having strong management support for the planned 5S changes; subsequently, sponsorship is important for giving laboratory employees the feeling of being supported by upper management, and confidence knowing that resources are being provided for the full 5S implementation. Awareness likewise covers the very important process of communicating to employees the reasoning for the 5S system, and engaging employees on their concerns and ideas, and using their experience to build strong support for the 5S system. According to the survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (2007), the two highest reported barriers to successful change are employee resistance to change, and insufficient communication of the planned change. Hiatt (2006) lists the four strategies of developing awareness of change as:
Top Management Support,
Appropriate Information Access.
Desire Element of the ADKAR Model
People are naturally hesitant to change, and strategically communicating the need for 5S and showing strong management support is designed to create the next element of the ADKAR model; specifically, desire for the 5S system in the laboratory. Desire is the breaking down of change resistance and the barriers to change inherent in the laboratory employees, and engaging them to the point of turning resistance to enthusiasm. According to Zigarmi and Hoekstra (2011), resistance to change is created when change is forced on employees instead of performed with employees; furthermore, not involving the employees being affected by the change taking place is the largest obstruction to successful change. Jeffrey Hiatt (2006) lists the maneuvers for creating desire in the ADKAR model as:
Sponsor the change successfully in collaboration with employees,
Provide managers the ability to perform as change leaders,
Appraise risk and expect resistance,
Involve employees in the process,
Align enticement programs to the goals.
After the first two elements of ADKAR are implemented, the laboratory personnel are aware of the efficiency problems in the laboratory department, and the need for continuous quality improvement. Through effective communication and employee involvement the desire to change is strong, and employees are on board with the next step of learning about the five steps and structure of the 5S system. Not addressing the first two steps of awareness and desire is the first problem 5S practitioners make; as a result, they do not set a strong foundation for implementing a system as culturally complicated as 5S. Laboratory leaders can misinterpret the 5S system as a simple housekeeping activity or quality tool and then struggle mightily, because laboratory employees cannot understand the need for the system, and do not feel the presence of management support; accordingly, employees then naturally build a resistance to the implementation of 5S into the laboratory.
Knowledge Element of the ADKAR Model
Knowledge is the third element of the ADKAR change management model. Knowledge is the training element of the change management structure and consists of training all laboratory employees on the history, structure, and processes used in the 5S system. The knowledge element of the ADKAR model stresses the importance of robust instruction of how to implement and use each 5S step, and making sure laboratory employees are unified in implementing and following the procedures to be developed. Jeffrey Hiatt (2006) describes the exercises for building knowledge in the ADKAR model as:
Train and educate with effectiveness,
Provide work tools,
Coach employees individually,
Develop training groups and settings.
According to the research paper by Korkut, Cakicier, Erdinler, Ulay, and Dogan (2009), 5S training by organizational leadership to the personnel executing the 5S implementation is a decisive factor in the successful 5S operation. Eaton and Caprenter (2000), reiterate the importance of training and emphasize that all affected employees need to understand how 5S works, how it is implemented, and what the results should be.
Ability Element of the ADKAR Model
Ability is the fourth element of the ADKAR model, and emphasizes the importance of providing resources in time, manpower, and equipment for a full implementation of all 5S steps. If time, manpower, and equipment are not adequate for implementing changes, then the whole 5S system can be compromised and each step may not be completed as the system is designed. Jeffrey Hiatt (2006) lists the exercises for crafting ability in the ADKAR model as:
Support the change through daily supervisor involvement,
Provide expert advice in subject material,
Involve employees in training exercises.
According to Bevan (2011), monetary, workforce, and technological resources must be available and applied to empower the change to be executed, or the change will be impaired. Minimalizing resources on change implementation such as 5S into an industrial laboratory can weaken the sustainability of the intended changes; in summary, laboratory personnel need the tools and time to get the job done.
Reinforcement Element of the ADKAR Model
Reinforcement is the last element of the ADKAR change management model. This element is extremely important if the 5S system is to be sustainable for the long term in an industrial laboratory. Knowing that 5S failures happen most often when 5S practitioners neglect the last step of the 5S system, sustain, then the ADKAR model can provide the proper planning and focus needed on building a sustainable 5S system in the industrial laboratory. Reinforcement accentuates the importance of measuring the affects of 5S changes through auditing the 5S system. According to Bevan (2011), tracking the changes by comparing results with the planned vision of the 5S system and reassessing goals to promote continual improvement are critical factors in successful and sustainable change. Hiatt (2006) also underscores the importance of employee recognition for following new 5S standard operating procedures, being a team player, and enthusiastically promoting the 5S culture changes. Another point of reinforcement is the continuation of management support, and keeping management involved with auditing and providing the needed positive feedback for employee recognition. Leaders of change must be aware of their role in successful change, and their responsibility in fostering the new system for continued growth and change in culture (Higgs & Rowland, 2010). If the reinforcement of the industrial laboratory 5S system is planned for and followed, as the ADKAR model can provide, then the probability of 5S sustainability failure will extremely diminish, and the 5S culture change can become the norm.
Reinforcement, Continuous Improvement,
and PDSA Cycle
The ADKAR model stresses the importance of a strong reinforcement process for sustainability and continuous improvement of implemented changes. An important quality and continuous improvement tool that provides a strong reinforcement process for 5S sustainability is the use of the continuous improvement cycle of PDSA (plan, do, study, act). With the inclusion of the PDSA cycle in the reinforcement element of the ADKAR model, 5S system audits, metrics, appraisals, and laboratory personnel feedback and recognition would be planned, implemented, studied for effectiveness, and continually improved by enacting changes to improve culture change reinforcement and 5S sustainably. According to the PDSA workbook from the State of Victoria Department of Health (2010), the PDSA cycle is an excellent model for continuous system improvement; furthermore, the workbook breaks down each phase of the PDSA cycle as follows:
Plan Phase: The planning of the 5S improvement that answers, “the who, what, when, why, and how” of the initiative.
Do Phase: The execution of the scheduled deliverables from the planning phase.
Study Phase: The review phase of comparing where the 5S system was and where it is now since the planned improvement initiatives have been executed. Measurables are taken to determine if changes were beneficial, or if more changes are needed to meet intended plans.
Act Phase: The moving forward phase to realize the gains from the cycle, determine opportunities that have risen from this initiative, and decide if the improvement cycle needs to be repeated or are new strategies apparent for improvement.
The ADKAR reinforcement element employs five campaigns for reinforcing change:
Celebration and Recognition,
Feedback from Employees,
Audits and Performance Measurement Systems,
Accountability Systems (Hiatt, 2006).
To employ these reinforcement campaigns and continually improve these tactics, PDSA can provide the continuous improvement model for devising, implementing, measuring, and improving the five tactics of reinforcement that the 5S system needs for long term sustainability. Continuous quality improvement is a voyage, and the PDSA cycle provides the structure needed to verify the sustainability of 5S through recurring assessment, and prevention of disparities within the 5S system from its intentions (Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, 2011). Each PDSA cycle performed in the reinforcement element of ADKAR provides a learning experience that can be used for continually strengthening the 5S system, and sufficiently reacting to laboratory environment changes and new quality issues (Srivannaboon, 2009).
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