What is the 9 “S” methodology?

We explain what is the 9 S methodology in labor management, its origin, principles and benefits. In addition, how it is implemented.

  1. What is the 9 “S” methodology?

The methodology of the 9 S is a technique for managing the work that has as its objective to achieve greater productivity with a better working environment . It is a philosophy based on organized and orderly work that aims to reach a level of maximum quality and its impact is observed in the long term.

It originated in Japan with the Toyota brand, which set the goal of achieving a new work culture permanently. To carry it out, the commitment of the management of the organization is required .

It is based on two basic rules: “start with yourself” and “educate by example . ” The maintenance of the new work culture is based on discipline and perseverance.

  1. Origin of the 9 S methodology

In 1960 a Japanese methodology emerged that was called “philosophy of the 5 S” and consisted of five principles called: seiri , seiton , seiso , seiketsu and shitsuke . In their translation into Spanish they mean: “separate the unnecessary”, “place the necessary”, “suppress dirt”, “signal anomalies” and “continue improving”.

The translation of the names varies a bit between one language and another, but the purposes of each principle are maintained and expressed very similarly to its original Japanese version.

Shortly after its publication, the methodology was updated to incorporate four more principles in order to encourage the individual to adopt good habits as a custom (that is, to adopt the philosophy of the previous five S).

The new principles were called: shikari , shitsukoku , seishoo and seido which, in their translation into Spanish, mean: “follow a line of action”, “be persevering”, “know how to coordinate” and “standardize the rules “.

During the sixties the Eastern philosophy applied to work had a great impact on Western companies because it was a very low cost action, allowed to optimize resources and save budget, reduce the number of accidents at work and improve the quality of productivity.

The nine principles were incorporated into the management system of quality worldwide, called ” ISO 9001″ , prepared in 1947 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO acronym: International Standardization Organization ), an independent body, not government, which brings together companies and organizations around the world.

In its origins, the ISO Standard was structured in four major stages that allowed it to be implemented in any type of business and industrial activity, since it was not identified with a particular product or service . By incorporating Japanese principles, the ISO Standard gained greater recognition and managed to be more compatible with other standards implemented in other countries.

  1. Principles of the 9 S methodology

The methodology promotes nine principles so that they are applied consistently and can become a form of daily work. The principles are:

  • Seiri (separate the unnecessary). It consists of classifying the objects that are not necessary or that are not used frequently and separate them to decide if they will be stored, sold, recycled , given away or discarded.
  • Seiton (place what is necessary). It consists of ordering the workspace in an efficient way to identify the classes of objects, designate them a definitive place and save space in order to obtain what is needed in the shortest possible time .
  • Seiso (remove dirt). It consists in improving cleanliness based on a bigger idea than just keeping cleanliness. Each individual is responsible for cleaning their work space because cleaning finds abnormal situations and supplies are kept in good condition.
  • Seiketsu (signal anomalies). It consists of standardizing or maintaining the first three S, understanding that they must be applied together, in order to signal and repeat the procedures so that they are a custom. This allows to detect or reduce possible problems .
  • Shitsuke (keep improving). It consists in being disciplined, that is, in giving continuity and follow-up to the change of habit according to the 9 S. The person who adheres to the order and control of their acts is prudent and evidence that they are capable of generating quality work and that Strive to improve.
  • Shikari (constancy). It consists of the will to remain firm in a line of action and with the mind in positive towards the development of an activity. For example, by maintaining good habits in daily practice, through permanent planning and control of tasks, cleanliness, order or constant punctuality in your life.
  • Shitsukoku (commitment). It consists in complying with the agreement, in making every effort to fulfill it. It is an attitude that is born from the conviction and manifests itself in enthusiasm day by day. To be possible, the commitment must be manifested at all levels of the organization.
  • Seishoo ( coordination ). It consists of a way of working together, where all individuals work at the same pace and towards the same goals. This way of working is achieved with time and dedication, maintaining good communication between all employees.
  • Seido (standardization). It consists in adopting as usual the changes that are considered beneficial for the company or those activities that contribute to maintaining an optimal work environment, through the implementation of rules, regulations or procedures.
  1. Implementation of the 9 S methodology

the 9 s labor organization principles implementation
The 9 S methodology requires the participation of management and all employees.

The implementation of the 9 S methodology requires certain factors to achieve success:

  • Management commitment. It implies that the organization’s board actively participates by applying the principles and setting the example so that its people also get involved.
  • Include the 9 S as part of the induction. It implies training employees, both old and new, so that they know and understand the objectives of the organization’s culture.
  • Participation of all staff. It involves doing teamwork , where everyone is identified and actively participating by applying the principles of 9 S in daily tasks.
  • Repeat the cycle constantly. Once the expected level of quality in work management has been reached, it is not enough to maintain it, but rather to optimize it and focus on continuous improvement.
  1. Benefits of the 9 S methodology

The implementation of the principles of the 9 S offers two types of benefits:

  • Tangibles Represents the noticeable changes to the naked eye. For example, more free space is perceived in the workshops or offices by eliminating unnecessary objects, the environments and equipment are cleaner and the search time for tools and materials is reduced by arranging them in an orderly manner in their corresponding place.
  • Intangibles It represents the changes that are not seen with the naked eye, but are perceived and generate impact on daily work. For example, it improves the self-esteem of employees, increases the predisposition for teamwork and reduces accidents in each job.

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