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MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
September 2012
The Efficient Organization


ClutterLoco Motion


Loco: Spanish term for "crazy," "insane," "mad"


Motion: The action or process of moving or being moved


How many times did you have to move today to accomplish one task at your workstation? In how many places did you have to look before you found the information you needed? How many steps did your roundtrip take to/from the photocopier or printer? If you answered, "More than necessary," you need to examine how motion is impacting your work day.


Wasted time through unnecessary movement of individuals is a common non-value added activity in many office and manufacturing settings. In a lot of instances, poor workplace organization/housekeeping or poor workstation layouts contribute to wasted motion. Yet it's an easy thing to correct using two simple methods, the 5S system and U-shaped cells. Both methods can increase your workflow capabilities by as much as 95 percent.


Hiroyuki Hirano is credited with creating the 5S system in the 1980s, but it originated in Japan with Toyota's Total Production System (TPS) post World War II. The 5S's are: Sort, Store, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. The premise of the system is that any workplace should be visually appealing by being organized. And by being organized, the workplace enables continuous workflow and minimizes waste.


Implementing the 5S system is typically done through Kaizen events. Teams physically sort through materials at workstations by getting rid of items that are not useful ("use it or lose it") while acquiring items that are needed; dedicating and organizing space to store items of usefulness; maintaining ("shining") the workstation and equipment through daily cleanliness and inspections; standardizing maintenance through documentation of best practices; and sustaining the improved work areas by continuing to sort, store, shine, and standardize through regular audits. The key to the 5S system is that it must be supported by the whole organization if it is to be successful. Its benefits include a better organized workplace which leads to reduced waste and, therefore, increased bottom line.


Once your workplace is organized through the 5S system, look at your workstation. Is it in an U-shaped configuration? Workstations set in U-shaped configurations increase workflow by allowing seamless movement within the work area across a shorter distance. If everything you need for your work is close at hand and movement of workflow is counterclockwise, your motion time is considerably reduced and your efficiency and productivity are increased.


Instead of running through your day with "loco" motion, implement the 5S system and configure your workstation in an U-shaped cell to decrease motion and improve productivity. By doing so, you will be contributing to your organization's continuous improvement. 

Pursuit of Profit
Less is More


One obstacle that I frequently encounter in organizations and one that directly inhibits organizational success is staff resistance to destroying records even when the records are past their usefulness. Keeping records "just in case" they are needed can do more harm than good to the organization. Here's an example of what I mean. 


In 1999, Carrier Lumber of Prince George, B.C., won a lawsuit against the provincial government for unilaterally cancelling its timber licence. What helped Carrier's case was that the government found 27 boxes of documents in a warehouse that they originally stated they did not have. These "found" documents were the evidence needed to prove that the province breached its contract with Carrier Lumber, resulting in an award of $150 million to Carrier.


At the time of the lawsuit, the province did not have a well-honed records and information management program. The 27 boxes of documents were stored in a warehouse "just in case" they might be needed. Unfortunately for the province in this case, but good for Carrier, there was no records retention schedule for the records. Had the records been managed according to an approved retention schedule, the records may indeed have never been found because they would have been destroyed before the lawsuit originated. This is definitely a case of "less is more."


Look around your office. How many records or other items are you storing "just in case?" If you think that having these records and items around won't hurt your organization, think about the Carrier Lumber case for some eye-opening insight. Is the keeping of clutter and non-useful records really worth the potential cost? I think not.

In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

With due respect to the creator of the 5S system, I suggest that Mom invented that system way before he thought of it. Think about it. When you were a kid, what did your Mom teach you? She taught you to keep your room clean by sorting through your stuff to keep only useful items, storing your stuff in your closet or drawers, shining your room by keeping it clean and tidy, and through regular inspections of your room, she ensured you maintained an orderly environment. So those who think this trendy invention of Lean, 5S, Kaizen, and so forth, is rocket science - think again. It's not new. All you need to be more efficient and productive is to abide by Mom's rules, no matter where you are. You can't get more common sense than that. IMHO


"Progress is what happens when impossibility yields to necessity."

Arnold H. Glasgow

About MNC Consulting Group
Our goal is to help you to dramatically increase efficiencies that immediately boost your profit margins.


ISSN 1925-8941   

Extreme Profits is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing how leaders can be more efficient and areas where organizations can save more money. 


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In This Issue
The Efficient Organization
Pursuit of Profit
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

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