Stand Down Events for Truly Rapid Results

Over the years, businesses have used numerous tools and techniques to achieve rapid change (i.e., Kaizen events). These techniques have typically focused on resolving specific manufacturing or business issues and last (often) for five days. However, in today’s fast-paced world, shutting down for an entire week to find and implement solutions to known problems is most often considered out of the question. Businesses now expect immediate gratification, often aiming at big changes in a just one day.

With a “need for speed,” more and more organizations are adopting the idea of holding what are best known as Stand Down Days ― one-day problem solving events. These intense initiatives can be focused on a broad range of improvement activities, but are most often leveraged to jump start 5S programs. Far removed from “business as usual,” a Stand Down Day is not something that can be undertaken by the faint-hearted. Only organizations with true diligence will succeed.

For Lean aficionados, the execution of a Stand Down Day should not be that daunting, as it falls squarely within the typical framework of Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) ― with a significant emphasis on the P. The primary objective of any Stand Down is to orchestrate a series of tasks in a day that could typically extend over weeks of uncoordinated activities. Such orchestration needs more than a maestro; it requires music sheets and the combined skills of an entire orchestra.

There can be no half-measures in accepting such an undertaking, and it all starts with 100% buy-in from the Site Leadership Team. This means wholehearted involvement from top management to commit their entire workforce. In fact, first and foremost, Leadership must agree to shutdown all normal operations and office activities for the day in order to have a single site-wide focus of creating a “world-class” working environment. There can be no exclusions! Leadership must also ensure that all employees understand the significance of what is being planned, and that their participation in the outcome can have a far-reaching impact on the overall success of the business.

The implementation of a 5S Stand Down Day needs to be looked at as an opportunity for the entire business to work together as a well-oiled machine. If one cog in the wheel is failing, the entire machine malfunctions. Due to the time restraints, nobody can afford to nibble around the edge of a problem that has suddenly become everyone’s problem. Instead, it must to be tackled as the only gorilla in the room. There is perhaps no greater motivation than this kind of peer pressure to deliver immediate and tangible results.

To learn more about how to most effectively plan and execute a Stand Down event, click here to download Kaufman Global’s white paper, “Stand Down Events for 5S: The Thirst for Rapid Improvement.”