Everyone has been there. You walk into work determined to stay organized, and by lunchtime, you can’t find the document you were working on this morning. Your desk, and likely your office, have become messy and chaotic. It’s no secret that messy and chaotic work environments are frustrating, especially in the moment. However, research also suggests that these work environments often increase stress, lower productivity, and reduce concentration.

What is 5S?

5S is a highly effective organizational system that originated at Toyota. 5S strategies seek to create efficient, effective, and safe work environments, in an effort to increase productivity.

The 5S system stands for:

  • Sort (Seiri) – to separate needed tools and materials from unneeded tools and materials
  • Set in Order (Seiton) – to arrange needed tools and materials in to maximizes efficiency
  • Shine (Seiso) – to clean the workspace
  • Standardize (Seiketsu) – to practice 5S daily in a common structured format
  • Sustain (Shitsuke) – to make all four Ss a habit

Sort, involves taking stock of all tools, materials, and equipment and deciding what is essential to the work, and what isn’t. Once items are separated, it’s time to set in order. This phase involves organizing those essential items into a logical arrangement for yourself, and those you work with. Now that everything is organized and arranged logically, it’s time to clean up.  Shine, simply refers to the act of cleaning up the workspace.

Practicing these steps daily in a structured format (standardize) and turning them into a habit (sustain) have been known to yield a number of impressive benefits including reduced costs, higher quality products, increased productivity, and higher rates of employee satisfaction.

5S was originally developed as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS), increasing the efficiency of TPS and the employee engagement at Toyota.  Some organizations have expanded on this by adding safety as another element to create 6S.  While a safer work environment has always been a by-product of 5S, adding safety as a separate discrete step has been beneficial to many organizations.

If 5S or 6S is something you want to learn more about, contact us for free information on how to get started.

About Lean Learning Center

The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees.

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