• Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean

From the Director’s Chair: “Are you and your team on the same Wave Length?”


I recently had a unique experience as a judge in a 5S Challenge at Volk Packaging. The story of the 5S Challenge is below. Derek Volk, President of Volk Packaging, a third generation, family owned company wanted to jump start 5S at his company. He devised the 5S Challenge, where all employees of the company were assigned to a team and given the task of conducting a 5S of their respective work areas. The teams were given six weeks to complete the challenge.

At the end of the six weeks a team of judges, who were non-Volk people, came in and judged each of the areas. Each area was rated on a ten point scale in each of four categories: Sort, Set in Order, Shine and Improvement. The team that scored the most points won First Prize. There was also a Second Prize and a Third Prize for the second and third highest point total.

I was fortunate to be one of the judges. The other two judges were the General Manager of a Consumer Packaging Company in Saco, ME and a Grad Student from the University of Maine, majoring in Management and Lean. We all met each other for the first time at Volk Packaging. After a short meeting with Derek Volk, who gave us the background and details of the contest, we went out and toured each of the fourteen areas. While we were out doing the judging, we never spoke to each other. We just observed, talked to the team leader in the respective are, compared the BEFORE photos to the current condition, and assigned our scores.

Upon completion of the judging, we reconvened in the conference room and totaled the scores for each area. To our amazement, each of the judges was within one point of the other judges for each of the 14 areas. How does this happen? How can three people who have never met before, be so close in rating each of the fourteen areas? Can we conclude that all the judges were on the same “wave length”?

What led to this happening?

Could it be the meeting with the President of the Company who clearly outlined the goals and objectives of the 5S Challenge, gave the attendees at the meeting a chance to ask questions and discuss the program, so that the judges had a clear understanding of what was expected of them, before they left the meeting?

Could you use these same guidelines to get your team to be on the same “wave length” at your next meeting with your team?

Read more about 5S at Volk Packaging here


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